06/2003 – Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

I live so emotionally with the great music I am conducting that I want to have the same feeling for every piece of contemporary music — including my own. — Skrowaczewski

PGF honors composer and conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski as its person of the month for June 2003. Mr. Skrowaczewski’s career is best known for its dedication to the works of Bruckner and for his engagement as the principal conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra. Mr. Skrowaczewski has been likened to his contemporary, Leonard Bernstein, in terms of his range as a composer-conductor.

We honor Mr. Skrowaczewski not only for his range and abilities, but more for the life he has lived and the accomplishment it has brought to the world of music. A quick read of his biography indicates the depth of his talent and the range of people he has touched with his talent. Reading between the lines we see the difficulty he has faced, a suffering through which beauty has emerged.

Mr. Skrowaczewski’s biography

Born in Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine), Skrowaczewski began piano and violin studies at the age of four, composed his first symphonic work at seven, gave his first public piano recital as 11 and two years later played and conducted Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. A hand injury during the war terminated his keyboard career, after which he concentrated on composing and conducting. In 1946 he became conductor of the Wroclaw (Breslau) Philharmonic, and he later served as Music Director of the Katowice Philharmonic (1949-54), Krakow Philharmonic (1954-56) and Warsaw National Orchestra (1956-59).

Skrowaczewski spent the immediate post-war years in Paris, studying with Nadia Boulanger and co-founding the avant-garde group “Zodiaque.” After winning the 1956 International Competition for Conductors in Rome he was invited by George Szell to make his American debut conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in 1958. This led to engagements with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati symphonies and, in 1960, to his appointment as Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (now the Minnesota Orchestra). Skrowaczewski has regularly conducted the major orchestras of the world as well as the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. He has made international tours with the Concertgebouw, French National, Warsaw and Hamburg orchestras, and twice toured the Philadelphia Orchestra to South America and the Cleveland Orchestra to Australia.
From 1984-91, following 19 years as Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra. With the Hallé he gave concerts Throughout England, led tours to the United States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Spain and Poland and recorded for RCA, Chandos and Pickwick/Carlton.

Guest engagements now take Skrowaczewski regularly to the continents of North and South America, Australasia, Scandinavia and in Europe to Amsterdam, Berlin, Cologne, London, Madrid, Paris and Vienna. In Japan he works regularly with both the NHK Symphony and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

Beginning with his Overture 1947, which won the Szymanowski Competition in Poland, many of Skrowaczewski’s works have received major international awards. Among his most recent compositions are the Concerto for Orchestra commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra and short listed for a Pulitzer Prize in 1999, and his Violin Concerto, commissioned and premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Earlier works performed by major European and American orchestras are the Concerto for Clarinet, Concerto for English Horn and Ricercari Nottrurni, recipient of a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1976.
Skrowaczewski’s interpretations of the Bruckner symphonies have earned him the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society, while his programming of contemporary music at the Minnesota Orchestra has been acknowledged by five ASCAP awards. An extensive discography includes recordings for RCA. Philips, CBS, Denon (Japan), EM1/Angel, Mercury, Vox, Erato, Muza and Arte Nova. Many celebrated earlier recordings have been re-released on CD and his digital recordings of Shostakovich, Bralims and particularly Bruckner have received highest praise. Skrowaczewski’s recordings of the 11 Bruckner symphonies with the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk Orchestra were recently released on the Arte Nova label to enormous critical acclaim

Skrowaczewski is currently the Conductor Laureate of the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Principal Guest Artist of the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk Orchestra.

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