Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who was music director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (now the Minnesota Orchestra) for 19 years (1960-79) and led Britain’s Hallé Orchestra of Manchester and the German Radio Orchestra of Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern for lengthy tenures, has died at 93.

He had been among the oldest still-active conductors, routinely working on lengthy and demanding scores such
as the symphonies of Bruckner and Shostakovich, until suffering a stroke in November and another earlier this month.

Skrowaczewski, born in Lwów, Poland, was chief conductor of a succession of Polish orchestras in the 1940s and ’50s. He first worked in the US in 1958, invited by George Szell to conduct the Cleveland Orchestra, after winning the Santa Cecilia Competition for Conductors in Rome two years earlier.

As music director, then conductor laureate, in Minneapolis, he conducted the Minnesota Orchestra each year for 56 seasons.

During and after his Minnesota years, he guest-conducted many of the world’s leading orchestras, among them the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic. He also conducted at the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera.

From the ’40s onward, Skrowaczewski frequently programmed works by contemporary composers, and was himself an accomplished composer.

He amassed a large discography. Among his most celebrated recordings was a cycle of the Bruckner symphonies with the Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern orchestra.

An obituary by Jenna Ross from the Star Tribune of Minneapolis: