The eminent Polish-born American conductor and composer, Stanislaw (originally: Stanisław; sometimes: Stanislav) Skrowaczewski, was born to a father who was a brain surgeon and his mother was a fairly good pianist. He began piano and violin studies at the age of four. A precocious wunderkind even for a fabled land of child prodigies, he composed an orchestral overture at the age of 8, gave his first public piano recital at 11, and performed L.v. Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto at 13, conducting the orchestra from the keyboard. He studied composition and conducting at the Lwów Conservatory and also physics, chemistry, and philosophy at the University of Lwów. The oppressive Nazi occupation of Poland interrupted his studies, and a bomb exploded in the vicinity of his house, causing an injury to his hands that interfered with his further activities as a concert pianist. After that unfortunate event, he concentrated on composing and conducting.
After World War II, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski went to Krakow to study composition with Palester and conducting with Bierdiajew. In 1947 he received a French government scholarship which enabled him to study composition with Nadia Boulanger and conducting with Paul Kletzki in Paris. At that time he also co-founded there the avant-garde group "Zodiaque". He then became conductor of the Wroclaw (Breslau) Philharmonic (1946-1947), and later served as Music Director of the State Silesian Philharmonic in Katowice (1949-1954), the Kraków Philharmonic (1954-1956), and the National Philharmonic in Warsaw (1956-1959).
After winning 1st prize at the 1956 International Competition for Conductors in Rome Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was invited by George Szell to make his American debut conducting the Cleveland Orchestra on December 4, 1958, scoring an impressive success. This led to engagements with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and, in 1960, to his appointment as Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (which was renamed the Minnesota Orchestra under his tenure in 1968). He asserted his excellence both as a consummate technician of the baton and a fine interpreter of the classic and modern repertoire. In 1966 he became a naturalised American citizen. In the interim, he appeared as a guest conductor of major orchestras throughout the world. As an opera conductor, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in New York on January 8, 1970, with Die Zauberflöte. He also conducted the Vienna State Opera. He has made international tours with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, French National, Warsaw and Hamburg orchestras, and twice toured the Philadelphia Orchestra to South America and the Cleveland Orchestra to Australia. In 1979 he resigned as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, and was made its conductor emeritus.
From 1984 to 1990 (or 1991), following 19 years as Music Director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Stanisław Skrowaczewski was appointed Principal Conductor principal and musical adviser of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester. With the Hallé Orchestra he gave concerts throughout England, led tours to the USA, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Spain and Poland and recorded for RCA, Chandos and Pickwick/Carlton. He also served as music adviser of the St. Paul (Minn.) Chamber Orchestra (1987-1988). In 1988, he was composer-in-residence for the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer season at Saratoga. He has guest-conducted that orchestra, and many others, all over the world. Between 1995 and 1997, he served as artistic advisor to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
In 1981 the American Composers' Forum commissioned the Concerto for Clarinet, which Skrowaczewski wrote for Minnesota Orchestra principal clarinettist Joe Longo, who premiered it in 1981. Other early works performed by major European and American orchestras are the Concerto for English Horn and Ricercari Notturni, recipient of a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1976. Beginning with his Overture 1947, which won the Szymanowski Competition in Poland, many of Skrowaczewski's works have received major international awards. Passacaglia Immaginaria, completed in 1995, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. Commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestral Association to honour the memory of Ken and Judy Dayton, it was premiered at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, in 1996. The Chamber Concerto was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in memory of Leopold Sipe, their first music director. Among his most recent compositions are his Symphony, premiered in 2003 by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Concerto for Orchestra, short listed for a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 and his Violin Concerto, commissioned and premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's interpretations of the Bruckner symphonies have earned him the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society, whilst 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, EMI/Angel, Mercury, Vox, Erato, Muza, Arte Nova and Oehms Classics. Many celebrated earlier recordings have been re-released on CD and his digital recordings of Dmitri Shostakovich, Johannes Brahms and particularly Bruckner have received highest praise. Skrowaczewski's recent recordings of Bruckner's eleven symphonies and L.v. Beethoven's nine symphonies (2005-2006) with the Saarlændischer Rundfunk Orchestra for Arte Nova have received enormous critical acclaim, with the Bruckner receiving the Cannes 2002 Award for Best Orchestral Recording of 18th/19th Century Orchestral Work and last year the Hallé Orchestra released Skrowaczewski's recordings of D. Shostakovich's First and Sixth Symphonies on their own label. Another noted recording is his J. Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with the London Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the soloist Gina Bachauer.
Guest engagements now take Stanislaw Skrowaczewski across North and South America, to Europe, Scandinavia and Japan. Skrowaczewski is currently the Conductor Laureate of the Minnesota Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie (formerly Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra) and Principal Conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski received the Commander Order of the White Eagle, the highest order conferred by the Polish government, as well as the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society, the 1973 Ditson Conductor's Award, and the 1976 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award.
Ugo and Parisina (1949)
Also theater and film music
4 symphonies.: No. 1 (1936), No. 2 (1945), No. 3, Symphony for Strings (1947), and No. 4 (1954)
Overture 1947 (1947)
Music at Night, extracts from the ballet, Ugo and Parisina (1949-1951)
English Horn Concerto (Minneapolis, November 21, 1969)
Ricercari nottumi for Saxophone and Orchestra (1977; Minneapolis, January 19, 1978)
Clarinet Concerto (1981)
Violin Concerto (Philadelphia, December 12, 1985)
Triple Concerto for Violin, Clarinet, Piano and Orchestra (1991)
Gesualdo di Venosa, arrangement of 6 madrigals for Chamber Orchestra (1992)
4 string quartets
Trio for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano (1982-1984)
Fantasie per quattro for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1984)
Fantasie per sei for Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, and Piano (Atlanta, April 16, 1989)
String Trio (1990)
Fantasie per tre for Flute, Oboe, and Cello (1992)
6 piano sonatas
Theater music; film scores; songs