Stanisław Skrowaczewski makes a long-awaited return to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Published: 05 May 2011
Stanisław Skrowaczewski, now 87 years old, makes a long-awaited return to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the Philharmonie Berlin, with concerts on May 26, 27 and 28. Skrowaczewski, who is renowned for his interpretations of Bruckner and was recently awarded the Bruckner Society of America’s Medal of Honor (read full story here), will conduct Bruckner’s Symphony No.3, with a first half of Hartmann’s Gesangsszene with baritone Matthias Goerne. The final concert on May 28 will be broadcast live on the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall (available here).
Skrowazcewski made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969, when Herbert von Karajan was Principal Conductor there. According to Michel Glotz (Karajan’s recording producer), Karajan “respected Skrowaczewski with great collegial affection and admiration”. Maestro Skrowaczewski regularly appeared with the orchestra over 17 seasons during Karajan’s tenure, during which time he introduced the orchestra to works by Lutosławski and George Crumb, as well as his own works. In his debut with the orchestra five decades ago, Skrowaczewski conducted the European premiere Elliot Carter’s Piano Concerto. He has also conducted the standard repertoire from Haydn and Mozart to Bartók and Stravinsky with the orchestra. His last performances with the orchestra were in 1986.
Forty years ago, in June 1971, Skrowaczewski received the following review from the Berlin Telegraf:
“Skrowaczewski was again with the Berlin Philharmonic and one could only wish to see him more often here because of his ability to make a spontaneous contact with the orchestra. From the very beginning Skrowaczewski engaged himself in bringing out all the storm-like character and romantic breathing of Weber’s Euryanthe Overture and gave Dvorák’s Eighth Symphony a large, proper current of melodic flow. His musicianship and artistic temperament brought the house to a great ovation.”
Earlier this season Skrowaczewski opened the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra’s season at the Alte Oper to huge critical acclaim. FAZ Rhein-Main-Zeitung wrote: “There are many good reasons to regard the hr-Sinfonieorchester’s opening concert of the season at the Alte Oper as one of the most brilliant and splendid performances this orchestra has ever given. The main reason this concert proved so extraordinary was the conductor, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. This memorable musician has conducted all the major orchestras in America and Europe over the last five decades, and he is a living legend as far as performances of Bruckner’s works are concerned. In just four weeks, Skrowaczewski will celebrate his 87th birthday, yet he remains physically fit, with a sharp mind and great artistic agility.”
A recent interview with Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Music Director Designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra) mentions the influence that Skrowazcewski and his performances of Bruckner have had on this young conductor: “Well, the first time I heard Bruckner was a recording of the Fourth […] I was 15, I think, and I remember telling my piano teachers that this was rubbish with too much brass. I couldn’t understand where it was going, it was too square. But when I heard Skrowaczewski conducting the Montreal Symphony live – the Ninth Symphony – in a church in Montreal, that’s when I changed completely. I was converted on the spot and from that moment I dreamt of conducting Bruckner. So it was just the impact of a great concert.”
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, interviewed by James Jolly, Gramophone, June 2011
In 2011/12 he looks forward to returning to the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Tonhalle Zürich orchestras, as well as to Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, NHK Symphony and a tour of Japan with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie.