Par 1 On Feb. 25 Maryla Jonas was just another refugee pianist making a Carnegie Hall debut. On March 30, frightened and nervous, she sat behind the biggest, blackest eight-ball in New York. Came the morning of March 31 and she awoke, more bewildered than ever, to find that she had become the most sensational story of the 1945-46 music season.
Par 2 That this could all happen in the short space of 34 days is naturally a tribute to indisputable artistry. But it is also a telling reminder of the power of the New York critics. Miss Jonas was so unknown when she made her debut that Carnegie Hall contained only the barest handful of listeners. It is the policy of the New York newspapers, however, to review practically every Carnegie or Town Hall debut, major or minor, promising or unpromising.
Par 3 For Miss Jonas's debut, Jerome D. Bohm had elected to cover for The Herald Tribune. Now Bohm is no fence sitter. Either he likes what he hears or he doesn't — and he never fails to say so. He liked Miss Jonas so well that he came right out and called her "The finest woman pianist since Teresa Carreño." This kind of praise not only put Bohm out on his limb; it placed Miss Jonas squarely behind her 88 keys. Could anybody be as good as the Venezuelan who, though she died in 1917, is still e standard against whom her piano-playing sisters are measured? This generation had, after all, produced the English Myra Hess and the Brazilian Guiomar Novaes.
Par 4 On the strength of Bohm's review and the strong support given his stand by the afternoon papers, Miss Jonas was immediately signed to a contract by the Metropolitan Musical Bureau, a part of Columbia Concerts, biggest bookers in the business. A second concert was scheduled for March 30. Would the New York Times, which had been caught off base by not printing a review of the debut, agree with The Tribune and thus guarantee Miss Jonas as a "must" to every local impresario all over the United States? Or would The Times disagree and thus cast doubt on the discovery of a new star? And could Miss Jonas, a sensitive artist and a frightened foreigner unused to American methods of marketing music, stand the strain and play as well the second time as she had the first?
Par 5 She could — and did. Nor was Olin Downes, chief Times critic, reluctant to admit it. He had listened, he said "to a poet and master of her instrument." Furthermore, discarding any limitations of sex, he declared that Miss Jonas "has few equals as an interpreter among the leading pianists of today."

The Road From Warsaw

Par 6 Thus Maryla Jonas, aged 35 and Polish to the heart, was signed, sealed, and had delivered, That her emotions might whirl in dazed confusion was quite understandable. If what had happened to her in New York was incredible, what had happened before was more so.
Par 7 When the war came to Poland in 1939, Miss Jonas was already established as a concert pianist. She had won the Chopin Prize in 1932 and the Beethoven Prize in 1933. She was married to a Polish criminologist and was quite happy. Not until the Nazis entered Poland did she' really begin to realize what Paderewski had meant when she auditioned for him at 18 and he had said: "You see that street down there? . . . It looks sordid, doesn't it? Well, there is life. Go out and find out for yourself . . . You'll be a better pianist."
Par 8 To her personal sorrow, Miss Jonas now knows. Her father, mother, husband, and two of her three brothers are dead. She herself escaped only because she walked from Warsaw to Berlin and the Brazilian Embassy there smuggled her out to Brazil, where a married sister was living.

Whispering Keys

Par 9 Safe but sick and heartbroken, Miss Jonas refused to touch a piano. It was not until a fellow Pole — the internationally famous pianist Artur p.86 Rubinstein — tricked her that she started playing again. He asked her to hear him rehearse, then to touch the keys so that he could test the acoustics of the hall. That was at 2:30 one afternoon. When Rubinstein's audience began to arrive at 7:30, she was still Playing.
Par 10 In the five years since then, she has been giving concerts in South America. But, to get fees which amount to anything, an artist must have New York notices. So a series of Mexican radio appearances was arranged, and with that money she came to New York and gambled everything on the now historic debut. She arrived in New York only ten days before the concert and couldn't get a piano to practice on. "I cried all the time," she says. "I have no piano. It is like being an animal. I cannot understand."
Par 11 Though Miss Jonas is rather short, she is not a small woman. Nor does she approach the piano in a small way. Hers is the grand manner, reminiscent of masters no longer here. But her style, although technically prodigious, is far from mere sound and fury. Bent over her instrument with bright blond curls awry, she can make a piano sing and whisper as have few in our time.
Par 12 But she still cannot understand the system which made her a star overnight and which will probably try its best to glamorize her. "What difference does it make," she asks, "whether I am fat and maybe do not make an appearance that you like here? My dress has nothing to do with the way I play the piano. I make music and that is all that matters to me."