Ex-Minnesota Orchestra maestro dies at age 93

Published 12:53 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — Former longtime Minnesota Orchestra music director Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who conducted major orchestras in England, Japan and other countries, died Tuesday after suffering a second stroke earlier this month, the orchestra said. He was 93.

Skrowaczewski’s family told Minnesota Orchestra president Kevin Smith that he died at a suburban Minneapolis hospital, according to an orchestra spokeswoman. An earlier stroke last fall ended Skrowaczewski’s decades of conducting.

Skrowaczewski’s last concerts were with the Minnesota Orchestra in October 2016, conducting works by Anton Bruckner, his specialty.

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Skrowaczewski, pronounced skroh-vah-chehf-skee, led the Minnesota Orchestra for 19 years, starting in 1960, but served on its artistic staff for 56 years. During his tenure as music director, Skrowaczewski was instrumental in the creation of Orchestra Hall, the orchestra’s home in downtown Minneapolis that opened in 1974. He also was a champion of new music, a celebrated composer and an advocate for the orchestra’s union musicians during a 16-month lockout.

“It is hard to express all that Maestro Skrowaczewski has meant to the Minnesota Orchestra,” the orchestra said in a post on its Facebook page. “Although he traveled the world conducting major orchestras until just last year, he continued to make Minnesota his home across the decades.”

In a statement, Skowaczewski’s management company, Intermusica of London, said he “commanded a rare position on the musical scene worldwide as both a renowned conductor and highly regarded composer.” The company noted he collaborated with Shostakovich, Lutoslawski, Penderecki and Andrzej Panufnik.

The native of Poland began studying the piano and violin at age 4. He composed his first symphonic work at 7 and gave his first public recital at 11. He won the International Competition for Conductors in Rome in 1956.

Other posts include with the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, England, from 1984 to 1991, and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo from 2007 to 2010.

He also suffered a stroke in November 2016, which forced him to cancel upcoming appearances with the Dallas Symphony and other orchestras.

A memorial service to celebrate Skrowaczewski’s legacy is scheduled for March 28 at Orchestra Hall.