Four Concerts by Paderewski in Raleigh (and Durham), North Carolina

 1917 and 1923:         Raleigh, Municipal Auditorium

1931:                          Durham, Duke, Page Auditorium

1939:                          Raleigh, Memorial Auditorium

City Hall and Auditorium (Raleigh, Wake County)

Site of the 1917 and 1923 concerts:

Contributors:         P. Thornton Marye, architect; Frank K. Thomson, supervising architect

Dates:                          1910-1911

Location:                   Raleigh, Wake County

Street Address:      Fayetteville St. at Davie St., Raleigh, NC

Status:                        No longer standing

Type:                            Public

Images in:                James Vickers, Raleigh: City of Oaks (1982).

Note:                            The grand, Beaux Arts style civic auditorium burned in 1930.

Fountain note:       The front part (City Hall), seen here at the far left end, (small windows) of the picture, did not burn and continued to function as the city hall.  This portion of the building stood until about 1960.


City Hall and Auditorium [Raleigh] — views taken from the southeast, looking northwest

Title: Auditorium and Municipal Building, seating capacity 5,000,  but probably only 3,000 at most.

Citation:  “Auditorium and Municipal Building, seating capacity 5,000„” Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Source: North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

The postcard view at left below (taken from the SW corner at the far left of the views above) was mailed on October 11, 1914, some two years after the building was opened.

A view from the southeast from approximately the same period.


An interior view showing the difficulty of asserting a capacity of 5,000.

January 23, 1917

The program in Raleigh was played on the day immediately following the first speech given by Woodrow Wilson proposing a free and independent Poland. It’s known as the “League of Nations” speech—“A World League for Peace” (January 22, 1917):

I take it for granted, for instance, if I may venture upon a single example, that statesmen everywhere are agreed that there should be a united, independent, and autonomous Poland, and that henceforth inviolable security of life, of worship, and of industrial and social development should be guaranteed to all peoples who have lived hitherto under the power of governments devoted to a faith and purpose hostile to their own.”

The January 22, 1917, speech was prompted by two memoranda by Paderewski:
                    a. January 11, 1917, covering the necessity of a free and independent Poland; and 
                    b. Shortly thereafter but before January 22, 1917, covering the need to include Gdansk (and East Prussia) in the new Poland.
These two memoranda are printed in volume I (pages 100-113, items 81 and 82) of Archiwum Polityczne Ignacego Paderewskiego. 6 vols. Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1973-2007.  I have all six volumes of this “Archiwum polityczne.”

This speech was to be followed almost one year later on January 8, 1918, by the famous “14 Points” of which the 13th was a “free and independent Poland with access to the sea.”


Ignacy Jan Paderewski

Raleigh, North Carolina

Municipal Auditorium

January 23, 1917

8:30 PM

Fantasia and Fugue in A minor                                                              Bach-Liszt

Sonata, Op. 27, Nr. 2 in C-Sharp minor                                                Beethoven

            Adagio sostenuto


            Presto agitato

Impromptu in B flat, Op 142                                                                   Schubert

(a) Serenade                                                                                               Schubert-Liszt

(b) Earlking                                                                                                 Schubert-Liszt

(a) Nocturne                                                                                               Chopin

(b) Sonata in B-flat minor                                                                        Chopin


            Doppio movimento


            Marche funebre


© Etude                                                                                                       Chopin

(d) Mazurka                                                                                                 Chopin

(e) Valse                                                                                                       Chopin

Menuet                                                                                                         Paderewski

Second Hungarian Rhapsody                                                                   Liszt

Military Polonaise                                                                                     Chopin

The above is the program as announced in The News & Observer for Sunday, January 21, 1917, page 6.

According to the review in The News & Observer for Wednesday, January 24, 1917, Paderewski played the following as an encore.

NOVEMBER 23, 1923:
               This program was played at a time of great turmoil in Europe. Hyperinflation was afoot in Germany, and the Rentenmark had just been introduced three days earlier. The Polish Mark, which had been pegged to the earlier German currency, had suffered inflation accordingly, creating social and political turmoil. It was not stabilized until some  months later.  The U.S. ambassador to Poland, Hugh Gibson, was featured on the cover of TIME magazine (dated 11/26, but printed the week before) in recognition of his efforts to aid the Poles in stabilizing the political and economic climate.

               The concert was played under less than ideal conditions.  The weather had turned quite warm; the hall was filled beyond capacity.  The concert began more than half an hour behind schedule.  The review in the News and Observer the next day noted, “Few musicians have worked under so great disadvantage.”  Nonetheless, Paderewski played an encore, his own famous little Minuet.


JANUARY 8, 1931

               (Program to be sought in Duke University collections and/or the California Lübke-Strakacz Archive)

Durham, Duke, Page Auditorium, Thursday, January 8, 1931.

               The Raleigh Municipal Auditorium had burned on October 25, 1930, ten weeks before this concert.  This is more than likely the program which the younger McMillan boy, Robert, attended with his mother—Helenka Paderewska’s secretary. He was seven years old at the time and has told me that Paderewski stroked his hair and called him a “handsome lad.” He was born September 4, 1923, and thus is now 91. He may have a copy of this program. I’ll have to contact him again.

               The program as given on the following page was reconstructed from reports in the The Durham Herald and The Durham Sun on the day prior to the concert, Wednesday, January 7, 1931.  The articles noted that Paderewski’s private (rented) railway car, the Superba, was to arrive the following morning from Richmond.  The ticket sales were handled by the Duke glee club, under the direction of J. Foster Barnes.  The anticipatory article in The News and Observer (January 4, 1931) noted that: “Page Auditorium on the new Duke Campus will be used for the Paderewski recital, and this event will mark the first important use of this handsome new auditorium for a musical program.”  The same article gave a version of the story of the famous recital by Paderewski which Herbert Hoover organized as a student at Stanford in 1896.  Hoover was the sitting President of the United States in 1931, and Paderewski had played a concert at the White House earlier in the 1930-31 tour.  On January 8, 1931, The News and Observer noted the selection of a winning design for the new Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, the one still standing today.

               Page Auditorium is not really a visibly separate building and thus has no individual postcard view known to this writer.  In this old view it’s pretty much right in the center, just to the left of the Duke Chapel tower.  This view is taken from the Medical School, looking toward the dormitory-quadrangle tower in the left distance.

The following aerial postcard view shows the West Campus of Duke University as it was shortly after its completion in 1932.  The cruciform layout of the campus as a whole is quite striking when viewed from the air.  Page Auditorium is located at the upper left in this view, just below the carillon tower of the Duke Chapel.  It is immediately recognizable by its stage housing rising massively at the rear of the building.

The reason for the shift to Durham.


Ignacy Jan Paderewski

Durham, North Carolina

Page Auditorium, Duke University

January 8, 1931

8:15 PM

Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel                                         Brahms

Sonata, Op. 27, Nr. 2 in C-Sharp minor                                                    Beethoven

Adagio sostenuto,


            Presto agitato

(a) Sonata in B minor, Opus 58                                                                   Chopin

            Allegro maestoso

            Scherzo molto vivace


Presto non tanto

(b) Nocturne in E-flat, Opus 9, No. 2                                                           Chopin

© Two Mazurkas                                                                                            Chopin

            A-flat, Opus 59

            D-major, Opus 33

(d) Etude in A-minor, Opus 25, No. 11                                                        Chopin

The Dancing Virgins of Delphi                                                                       Debussy

Veils                                                                                                                    Debussy

The Wind on the Plain                                                                                    Debussy

Minstrels                                                                                                           Debussy

Prelude in C-sharp minor, Opus ???                                                             Rachmaninoff

Prelude in G-sharp minor, Opus 32, No. 12                                                Rachmaninoff

Prelude from Tristan and Isolde                                                                   Wagner-Schelling

La Campanella                                                                                                  Paganini-Liszt

The above is the program as announced in The Durham Herald for Wednesday, January 7, 1931, page 3, and in The Durham Sun for the same day, page 12.

Scans of the three-page program for the January 8, 1931, concert at Page Auditorium follow. This program has only recently come to light, and it is believed to be the only copy presently extant. It is to be found in the archives of Duke University, Durham. The program is thought to have belonged to a lady by the name of Dorothy Newsom Rankin, at that time still a student. Although the program was not found in her collection, the marginalia appear to be in her hand. One of the archivists at Duke has noted, “She attended tons of musical events (and saved all the programs!)” Dorothy Rankin’s enthusiasm for the performance is palpable, and her excitement is infectious. It must have been an event.

APRIL 28, 1939

               This was the seventh from the last concert Paderewski ever played.  The front page of The News and Observer for April 29, 1939, featured both Paderewski and the abrogation of the German-Polish non-aggression pact by Hitler.  The pact had been initiated by Jozef Pilsudski and was signed on January 26, 1934; its abrogation was the first official step toward Hitler’s attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, which opened World War II in Europe.

               This front page is also interesting for the picture of Paderewski’s waiter, 56-year-old Charles Smith, a native of Charlotte, who grew up in Raleigh from the age of two.  He had been the pianist’s waiter for the last five US concert tours.  He worked for a time at The News and Observer, and his brothers, Robert and Richard Smith, continued to work for the newspaper after he went north before World War I.


Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

               The North Carolina architectural firm Atwood and Weeks designed Memorial Auditorium as the replacement for Raleigh’s City Auditorium, which had been destroyed by fire on October 25, 1930. The Neo-Classical Revival Fayetteville St. landmark was completed in 1932 with federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) funding. Raleigh builder and developer C. V. York was the contractor. Following various improvements and updates in 1963 and 1977, the auditorium underwent a major renovation in 1990 which featured an extension of the massive Doric portico, the addition of three performance halls and an external glass-enclosed concourse and lobby. Today the complex is home to the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts . It includes the Fletcher Opera Theater, the Kennedy Theater, and Meymandi Concert Hall, home of the North Carolina Symphony.

               A Flashback Friday reproduction of an early postcard features Raleigh’s iconic Memorial Auditorium. The monumental building was erected in 1932 as a memorial to the soldiers who died during “The Great War” (WWI). Architecturally, it is a beautiful complement to our Greek Revival-styled State Capitol. The digital scan of the postal card below was appended to the website:

The scanned postal card was mailed in 1936 to New York.