Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Stanisław Skrowaczewski on 21 February 2017 in Minneapolis, at the age of 93.
During his long and highly distinguished career, Stanisław Skrowaczewski commanded a rare position on the musical scene worldwide as both a renowned conductor and highly regarded composer. Skrowaczewski conducted the world’s major orchestras and collaborated with some of the musical giants of the 20th century, including Shostakovich, Lutosławski, Penderecki and Andrzej Panufnik. Revered in particular for his interpretations of his “beloved” Bruckner, Skrowaczewski’s last concerts were in October 2016 when, on the occasion of his 93rd birthday, he conducted memorable performances of Bruckner Symphony No.8 with the Minnesota Orchestra, where he was Music Director for 19 years. He matched Leopold Stokowski in years of public performance and, in October 2015, he became the oldest conductor ever to perform at London’s Royal Festival Hall, in Bruckner Symphony No.5 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance was released on the LPO label in 2016, one of Skrowaczewski’s last recordings.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski died on 21 February 2017 in Minneapolis. He was born on 3 October 1923 and in 1956 he married Krystyna Emma Jarosz, who died in August 2011. He is survived by their two sons Paul and Nicholas, and their daughter Anna.
A “Celebration of the Life of Stanisław Skrowaczewski” will be held on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Intermusica Managing Director Stephen Lumsden said:
“We are deeply saddened at the passing of our long-standing artist and friend, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. He was a musical giant amongst conductors who gave the deepest and most exhilarating performances right into his 94th year. His celebrated interpretations of an enormously varied and eclectic repertoire, marked him out as a “Musician’s conductor” who never ceased to seek out and explore the musical depths of everything he conducted. Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s ambitions laid entirely in and at the service of the music. He never sought fame or compromised for the benefit of his career. His remarkable nearly 20-year tenure at the head of the Minnesota Orchestra, his many memorable performance during his time at the Hallé Orchestra as well as his guest engagements with the finest orchestras in the world have left a legacy which resides predominantly in the musical standards he demanded and espoused. His many outstanding recordings, including his recent recordings of Bruckner with the LPO, as well as in a large number of his own compositions, for he was an outstanding and underrated composer, leave us with tangible representations of all that. Skrowaczewski’s innate modesty carried over into avoiding advocating for his own music which is a pity as there are many outstanding scores, not least his virtuosic Concerto for Orchestra which can stand beside any other composers’ attempts under that title, Music at Night and his Violin Concerto, all commissioned by the major orchestras in the United States (where he lived until his death). His association with the greatest artists and composers of the 20th Century brought out extraordinary and moving stories as he chuckled post-concert behind his favourite glass of Bordeaux. We are extremely proud to have had a 30-year association with this great artist and man, will miss him deeply and send our deepest condolences to his devoted children, his wider family and his many friends. Another musical giant is slain just at the time we need them most.”
Please visit Stanisław Skrowaczewski’s profile page to download a PDF of this press release, and for images, video material and a complete biography.
Photo credit Mark Luinenburg
Stanisław Skrowaczewski's historic Bruckner Symphony No.8 with the Minnesota Orchestra
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to the Minnesota Orchestra on 14 and 15 October 2016 for a historic performance of Bruckner Symphony No.8.
Skrowaczewski was Music Director of the orchestra (then the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra) between 1960 and 1979, and Bruckner’s Symphony No.8, often given the nickname the ‘Apocalyptic’, was the final piece he conducted during his tenure.
In April 2016 he conducted the symphony at the Berliner Philharmonie with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin to standing ovation:
“The conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski exposed the overwhelming art of the existential dimension of Bruckner.”
“So wonders of the score shine under his leadership from the power of its breadth … the tension during the performance had an extraordinary quality.”
“His Bruckner brings alongside this a compelling architecture and such a natural flow with such noble, intense colours in which you as a listener gratefully immerse yourself. And you will never want to be without Skrowaczewski’s Bruckner again.”
He is now Conductor Laureate of the orchestra and returns to conduct once each season. In a press release, the orchestra commented:
“On October 14 and 15, the Minnesota Orchestra welcomes Conductor Laureate Stanislaw Skrowaczewski back to the podium for performances of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, in concerts that celebrate Skrowaczewski’s remarkable relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra—a tenure that spans more than 55 years. One of the world’s leading Bruckner interpreters, Skrowaczewski has held the Eighth Symphony as a personal favorite for many years, and conducted it on the historic occasion of his final subscription concert as Minnesota Orchestra music director in 1979. This 83-minute symphony represents the summit of the composer’s work—it begins in near silence, layering in lyrical and passionate themes that rise gradually to a monumental climax.”
Stanisław Skrowaczewski's Bruckner No.5 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra released
Stanisław Skrowaczewski's third recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, of Bruckner Symphony No.5, was released on the orchestra's label on 27 May 2016.
The symphony was recorded live in concert at the Royal Festival Hall in November 2015. At 92, Skrowaczewski became the oldest conductor to have ever conducted at the hall, and the reviews reinforced Skrowaczewski’s place amongst the most celebrated Bruckner conductors.
"The interpretation was vibrant and intuitive, with tempo and dynamic decisions seemingly coming from inside the music itself ... few other conductors can project a knowledge of Bruckner’s symphonies as comprehensive or sympathetic as we experienced here ... At 92, Skrowaczewski is still the master of this music; other performances seem trivial by comparison ... his was an interpretation at the very highest level of inspiration"
Arts Desk, November 2015
"Throughout this impressive account there was a strong and palpable connection between maestro and musicians ... here distinguished by Skrowaczewski’s authority and humility, his lust for life and music, and the London Philharmonic’s dedicated response: a humbling yet inspiring experience was fashioned."
Classical Source, November 2015
“It sounds throughout as if the LPO is completely in sympathy with the conductor’s carefully controlled approach ... It feels right, end to end.”
CD Review, BBC Radio 3, March 2015
“It has a quiet dignity and integrity, and one is left in no doubt that the man on the podium comes with a wealth of experience and is in love with every bar.”
Gramophone, November 2013
Stanisław Skrowaczewski conducts Bruckner Symphony No.8 in return to the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns this month to the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin to conduct Bruckner Symphony No.8 at the Berlin Philharmonie on 17 April 2016. This concert forms a part of a wider Bruckner focus for the RSB this season, including performances of Bruckner Symphony No.4 and No.7 under Chief Conductor Marek Janowski.
Skrowaczewski recently returned from Japan where he joined the Yomiui Nippon Symphony Orchestra, of which he is Honorary Conductor Laureate, for a performance of Symphony No.8 broadcast that was live on NHK TV. Skrowaczewski has recorded Bruckner's symphonies with the Yomiuri Nippon, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. A full discography can be found here.
Skrowaczewski’s interpretations of Bruckner have earned him the Bruckner Society of America’s Kilenyi Medal of Honor and the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski named Conductor Laureate of Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
Following his many years of happy and fruitful music-making with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken (DRP), Stanisław Skrowaczewski has been named Conductor Laureate of the orchestra.
SWR director, Peter Boudgoust, wrote: “This form of decades of cooperation between conductor and orchestra at the highest musical level is an absolute exception in the international music world.”
Skrowaczewski first conducted the orchestra in 1978 and since then has returned almost every season, famously recording the entire cycle of 11 Bruckner symphonies and the complete Beethoven symphonies on Arte Nova Classics (now Oehms Classics), which received enormous critical acclaim.
The title joins a long and distinguished list of awards (including the Knight’s Cross of Polonia Restituta, one of Poland’s highest decorations), six honorary doctorates and two other orchestral positions: Honorary Conductor Laureate of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Laureate of the Minnesota Orchestra. Skrowaczewski conducted the Minnesota Orchestra earlier this month:
“... having just turned 92, this master Bruckner interpreter is demonstrating the depth of his understanding ... Skrowaczewski shaped a stirring sonic odyssey of a Bruckner Seventh, a 75-minute distillation of all that's grand and glorious about these epic yet plain-spoken symphonies.”
Twin Cities, October 2015
This week he becomes the oldest conductor ever to appear at the Royal Festival Hall, conducting Bruckner Symphony No.5 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
He returns to the DRP next week to conduct Bruckner Symphony No.8 on 6 November in the Congresshalle, when the position will be officially honoured.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall on 31 October 2015, shortly after his 92nd birthday.
A renowned interpreter of Bruckner, Skrowaczewski conducts Bruckner Symphony No.5 in B-flat major, following two hugely successful performances in recent years with the LPO of Bruckner’s third and seventh symphonies, both recorded live and released on the LPO label.
“Luminous in texture and majestically clear of purpose, with an exceptionally serene slow movement and a warm-hearted Trio. Tempi are wonderfully sustained … and climaxes are reached patiently and lyrically.”
Bruckner Symphony No.7 (2013), *****, Financial Times
“The LPO ... bring a warmth and holistic purity … Skrowaczewski keeps his head when, all around him, other conductors lose theirs.”
Bruckner Symphony No.3 (2015), Gramophone
Skrowaczewski also recorded the complete Bruckner symphonies with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern. Click here to watch Skrowaczewski and the Berliner Philharmoniker perform Bruckner Symphony No.3.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski makes a historic return to the Cleveland Orchestra
Stanisław Skrowaczewski makes a historic return to the Cleveland Orchestra on 7 August, as part of their Summers@Severance series. He conducts a programme of Mozart Don Giovanni Overture (arr. Busoni) and Shostakovich Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op.47.
Skrowaczewski’s performance with the Cleveland Orchestra this month honours his long relationship with the orchestra that spans seven decades, having begun in 1958 when he made his debut conducting Shostakovich Symphony No.5 and the American premiere of Lutosławski Concerto for Orchestra. The review of his return concert the following year was featured on the front page of The Plain Dealer with the headline “Polish Conductor Electrifies Severance Hall”, and also led to his appointment as Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra when he succeeded Antal Doráti to became the first conductor from behind the “Iron Curtain” to lead a major American orchestra.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski conducts Bruckner Orchester Linz at St Florian Basilica
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to the Bruckner Orchester Linz on 4 July 2015 to conduct Bruckner’s Symphony No.8 as part of the Oberösterreichs Stiftskonzerte 2015 series. The concert takes place at St Florian’s Basilica, where Bruckner himself is buried. Skrowaczewski, now in his 93rd year, has been lauded for his interpretations of Bruckner countless times. He has been awarded both the Bruckner Society of America’s Kilenyi Medal of Honor and the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society. On 8 July, Skrowaczewski and the orchestra travel to Passau to perform Bruckner’s Symphony No.7 at St Stephen’s Cathedral, as part of the Festspiele Europäische Wochen.
Skrowaczewski has worked regularly with the Bruckner Orchester Linz for a number of years. In its five-star review of his last performance with them in Linz in 2013, the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten commented:
“It’s already fairly astonishing to see an 89 year old conducting a concert, and all the more so when he conducts the entire concert from memory. But with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, even that wasn’t the most remarkable aspect of the performance...
“It must be such a pleasure to perform under Skrowaczewski’s baton, and to give of your very best. It is rare to experience the Bruckner Orchester Linz playing with such concentration, perfection and inspiration, and the standing ovations at the end of the concert were definitely well deserved.”
The orchestra’s Chief Conductor, Dennis Russell Davies, discusses Skrowaczewski’s strong relationship with the orchestra in Skrowaczewski’s biography by Frederick Harris, Jr., Seeking the Infinite:
“It’s all about the music with Stan. That’s why musicians respect him. He simply goes about the business of achieving the best performance he can. He’s extremely courteous but very direct. He doesn’t mince words, and he gets the results he wants. The musicians have a challenging workout, and they like it.”
Skrowaczewski last conducted at St Florian’s Basilica (pictured below, again with the Bruckner Orchester Linz) in 2010. Describing a previous visit to St Florian in 1993 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, on his 70th birthday, Skrowaczewski is quoted in Harris’s biography, saying:
“Before the concert I went to St. Florian with the principal cellist and trumpeter and manager of the Philharmonic. St. Florian is about ten miles from Linz and is home to the St. Florian Monastery, where Bruckner sang in the renowned boys’ choir and later taught and played organ there. The monastery houses the famous “Bruckner organ.” His tomb is underneath the organ, as was his request. We were with a group of tourists and a guide, but we separated from them, and they eventually disappeared. It was 5:00 p.m., and we had no idea that they would close the gate. We were high up on the second floor of this huge monastery. We couldn’t get out, and no one could hear us. And the concert was at 7:30 p.m. It was very dramatic. We began shouting, and after a half hour of panic, somebody heard us. They opened the door, and we made it to the concert on time.
“After the performance and the applause, the whole orchestra sang 'Happy Birthday' to me. I don’t know how they found out it was my seventieth birthday; I hadn’t told a soul.”
Skrowaczewski’s relationship with the LPO is still strong over 20 years later, and they have recently recorded together Bruckner’s Seventh and Third Symphonies. He returns to the orchestra on 31 October to conduct Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to Minnesota Orchestra
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to the Minnesota Orchestra to conduct Beethoven Symphony No.7 and Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 with soloist Garrick Ohlsson in three concerts at Orchestra Hall on 21, 22 and 23 May.
The concerts mark 55 years since Skrowaczewski’s appointment, in 1960, as Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (now the Minnesota Orchestra), a position that he held for 19 years. Since concluding his tenure, Skrowaczweski continued his affiliation with the orchestra as Conductor Laureate and celebrated his 90th birthday with the orchestra last year.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski: New recording of Bruckner Symphony No.3 on LPO Live
Internationally renowned Bruckner specialist Stanisław Skrowaczewski releases a new recording of Bruckner's Symphony No.3 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2015. The release was recorded live in concert on 14 March 2014 at the Royal Festival Hall, and is released on LPO Live.
“To me, Bruckner is one of the greatest composers,” says Skrowaczewski. “He is another Mozart: his music is magical… Its message speaks about the infinite, transcendental cosmos, God, timelessness, love and tragedy.”
This new release follows Skrowaczewski's 2013 recording of Bruckner Symphony No.7 with the LPO, and has been met with glowing reviews:
"It sounds throughout as if the LPO is completely in sympathy with the conductor’s carefully controlled approach ... It feels right, end to end."
CD Review, BBC Radio 3, March 2015
"Another gem from Skrowaczewski’s Indian summer. His structural thinking is impeccable – all tempo relations are perfectly judged – yet he is able to maintain a feeling of unpredictability, and even spontaneity, that prevents his Bruckner from even seeming forumulaic."
Classical CD Reviews, April 2015
"Skrowaczewski provides an awe-inspiring sense of structure honed from decades of experience... accomplished in breadth and potency drawing near faultless playing from his London players. This is a notable live performance deserving of significant praise. It can rub shoulders with some of the finest recordings."
MusicWeb International, April 2015
Stanisław Skrowaczewski: European concerts with three orchestras in Gothenburg, Saarbrücken, Basel
After two weeks with the Hallé and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in January, Stanisław Skrowaczewski continues his busy 2015 season conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra on 19 and 20 February, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie on 28 February and the Basel Symphony Orchestra on 4 and 5 March.
The concerts in Basel and Gothenburg pair the music of Mozart and Bruckner. In Basel, Bruckner ‘Romantic’ Symphony No.4 will be performed after Mozart Symphony No.34 and pianist Jan Lisiecki joins him in Gothenburg for Mozart Piano Concerto No.20, followed by Bruckner Symphony No.2.
Skrowaczewski is Principal Conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, and his complete recordings of Bruckner’s and Beethoven’s symphonies with the orchestra for Oehms Classics have received enormous critical acclaim. The Bruckner set won the 2002 Cannes Classical Award in the ‘Orchestral 18/19 Century’ category and was also included in BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Top Ten Discs of the Decade’.
The concert with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in the Congresshalle, Saarbrücken, which features music by Polish composers Chopin, Lutosławski and Skrowaczewski, opens this year’s Musikfestspiele Saar.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to the Hallé for five concerts
To start a busy 2015, Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to Europe to conduct the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra on 22 and 23 January, and the Hallé on 28, 29, 30, 31 January and 1 February.
The Hallé and Skrowaczewski will perform a programme of Weber Der Freischütz, Brahms Symphony No.4 and Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor with soloist Nicholas Trygstad in three concerts at Bridgewater Hall, and touring on to Leeds Town Hall and King George’s Hall, Blackburn.
A regular guest at The Hallé and their Principal Conductor 1984-1991, he returns to Manchester, as described by the Manchester Evening News on his last visit in March 2013, a “living legend”.
In the preceding week, Skrowaczewski, respected the world over as an interpreter of the music of Anton Bruckner, will perform his Symphony No.5 in B-flat major at the Grieghallen on 22 January with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert on 23 January will be a private concert for members of the University.
Watch Skrowaczewski conduct the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in last moments of the Finale of Bruckner Symphony No.5 in March 2014:
Stanisław Skrowaczewski awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland
Stanisław Skrowaczewski has been awarded the prestigious Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland (‘Polonia Restituta’) by the President of the Republic of Poland at a ceremony in Warsaw on 1 December. The award is the second-highest civilian award in Poland, only superseded by the rarely-awarded Knighthood of the Order of the White Eagle. In 1999 Skrowaczewski was made a Commander with Star of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland.
The recipient of numerous accolades internationally, Skrowaczewski received the Bruckner Society of America’s Kilenyi Medal of Honor in 2011 and the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society in 1979, in recognition of his interpretations and recordings of Bruckner’s music. In 2004, he was the recipient of the McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award, one of Minnesota’s highest cultural recognitions. In 2013 the University of Minnesota established the Stanislaw Skrowaczewski Endowment in Conducting in honour of his remarkable contributions to music and to Minnesota, now his adopted home.
Skrowaczewski is in Warsaw to conduct two concerts with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. On 5 and 6 December, they perform Skrowaczewski’s own Passacaglia Immaginaria and Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony.
The 91-year-old conductor was in Frankfurt last week to conduct the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Alte Oper (Skrowaczewski Passacaglia Immaginaria and Bruckner Symphony No.9). Click here to watch the full performance on Arte-TV.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Following two weeks in Brazil conducting the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and four concerts with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Stanisław Skrowaczewski returns to conduct the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in three concerts on 26, 27 and 28 November.
Skrowaczewski last conducted the orchestra in September 2013, replacing Gianandrea Noseda in a programme of Prokofiev, Ravel and his close friend Shostakovich. The reviews were glowing:
"The enduring power of his artistic presence and his agility are amazing, but this is not what really stands out about Skrowaczewski. Rather, it is the breathtaking results his interpretations are still able to achieve and the way he goes about this that are spectacular."
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"The Pole's physical and mental agility, which we had already had the opportunity to admire during his guest performance with [the orchestra] in March, paid dividends once again."
Frankfurter Neue Presse
"The man is phenomenal. Now approaching his 90th birthday, Stanisław Skrowaczewski proved that he is as vigorous as ever."
Skrowaczewski is also a well-respected composer, and the programme also includes his Passacaglia Immaginaria and Bruckner Symphony No.9 in D minor.
Watch the full performance of Shostakovich Symphony No.10 with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in September 2013:
Stanisław Skrowaczewski: six concerts with São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Stanisław Skrowaczewski will be in São Paulo for a six-concert series with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. The concerts take place on 30 and 31 October and on 1, 6, 7 and 8 November and the programme includes Bruckner Symphony No.4 'Romantic', along with pieces by Berg, Mozart, Brahms and Panufnik.
Earlier in October, Skrowaczewski travelled to Japan for four concerts with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Skrowaczewski and the orchestra performed Beethoven Symphony No.7 and Bruckner Symphony No.0 'Nullte' in Tokyo's Metropolitan Theatre (8 October) and Suntory Hall (9 October), Yokohama Minato Mirae Hall (11 October) and Nagoya Gero Synergy Center (12 October). Skrowaczewski was the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra's Principal Conductor between 2007 and 2010 and regularly returns to make guest appearances.
Skrowaczewski is one of the world's most respected interpreters of Bruckner; his efforts over the years have been rewarded with the Bruckner Society of America's Kilenyi Medal of Honour and the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society.
These concerts in Japan and Brazil mark the start of a busy season for Skrowaczewski and will be followed closely by guest weeks conducting two of his former orchestras, the Katowice Philharmonic (Music Director 1949-54) and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra (Conductor 1956-59), and a week with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Watch Skrowaczewski discuss his interpretation of Bruckner's Symphony No.4 below: