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Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, 93, conductor and composer
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J.D. Baldwin
2017-02-23 19:01:16 UTC
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This is a big one for me. "Stan" was the music director of the
Minnesota Orchestra during my formative years in Minneapolis. He
introduced me to Bruckner, and opened my eyes to hidden virtues of
composers I thought I'd known well. His own life story was dramatic
and moving.

I met the man once, in April of 1978. Neville Marriner was a guest
conductor, so I went backstage to try to score an autograph. Stan
(who was there only as an audience member that evening) breezed by on
the way to his office. I stopped him, chatted him up for a moment --
he was very gracious -- and got his autograph as well. (I still have
both.)

For some reason, he wasn't enormously successful in America. He was
popular enough in Minnesota, but he was a *huge* name in Europe and
Japan.

http://www.startribune.com/stanislaw-skrowaczewski-minnesota-musical-giant-dead-at-93/414391273/

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Minnesota musical giant, dead at 93

Polish emigre became the dean of Minnesota's classical music
scene, leading the Minnesota Orchestra for two decades.

By Jenna Ross Star Tribune FEBRUARY 21, 2017 -- 10:10PM

Minnesota's beloved maestro Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who defected
from Communist Poland to lead the Minnesota Orchestra to new
heights, died Tuesday at 93.

During his tenure as music director in the 1960s and '70s, "Stan"
expanded the orchestra's repertoire and raised its national
profile. He regularly returned to that podium between guest-
conducting major orchestras around the world and composing his own
works in the basement of his Wayzata home.

"I think he gave the Twin Cities a sense of artistic luster that
they've enjoyed ever since," said Frederick Harris Jr., author of
Skrowaczewski's biography "Seeking the Infinite." Reinforcing that
cultural milieu by staying in the state while building a
distinguished international career, the Polish-born maestro became
"the dean of classical musicians of Minnesota," Harris said.

Skrowaczewski suffered a stroke in November and again in
February. A memorial will be held March 28 at Orchestra Hall.

"Maestro Skrowaczewski's mark on the Minnesota Orchestra was
significant and continued well beyond his years as music
director," said music director Osmo Vdnskd. "He was a consummate
musician and conductor, and he will be greatly missed."

By the time of his final concerts with the orchestra last fall,
Skrowaczewski's wild hair was white, his body frail. But critics
lauded the performance as "vigorous," full of "drama and fury."

His first stroke came just a few weeks later, causing him to
cancel a Dallas Symphony gig and conducting engagements on his
2017 calendar. Skrowaczewski's tireless career is forever tied to
the orchestra he took charge of in 1960, at age 36, and never
left. After stepping down as music director in 1979, he remained
its conductor laureate.

It was his relentless proselytizing that got Orchestra Hall in
Minneapolis built in 1974 after decades in the then-acoustically
deficient Northrop Auditorium. He was the conductor the musicians
turned to during a bitter 16-month lockout, leading a rogue,
musician-led concert in 2012. And, when they returned to Orchestra
Hall in 2014, he held the baton.

Despite increasing frailty and heart problems, he conducted and
composed until the end. "When you are 93," he told the Star
Tribune last year, "there is so much work to do because there is
not a lot of time left to do it."

In what turned out to be his final concerts, he led the Minnesota
Orchestra in Anton Bruckner's Eighth Symphony in October, just
after his 93rd birthday. It was a fitting farewell: Skrowaczewski
was one of Bruckner's finest interpreters, and, when he retired as
music director, the same symphony was his valedictory.

The October performance "seemed hardly the work of a man in his
twilight years," wrote critic Michael Anthony, who covered
Skrowaczewski since the 1970s. "It was bold, vigorous and
dramatic, a prime example of what might be called this conductor's
later style, a reading with a strong sense of direction, of
inevitability and flow."

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c***@aol.com
2017-02-23 19:43:56 UTC
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I don't know why, with his success in MN, he never made it big in the USA. He wasn't a great conductor but he was certainly better than mediocrities like Leonard Slatkin or Alan Gilbert. The vagaries of the classical music biz.
Terry del Fuego
2017-02-23 20:10:42 UTC
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On Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:01:16 +0000 (UTC),
Post by J.D. Baldwin
For some reason, he wasn't enormously successful in America. He was
popular enough in Minnesota, but he was a *huge* name in Europe and
Japan.
This may be my fault. I just finished ripping my entire SACD
collection (yes, it really is doable if you have the right hardware)
and lost most of what was left of my already diminished "mind"
attempting to type his name correctly into the CONDUCTOR tag.
<https://www.discogs.com/Ravel-Stanislaw-Skrowaczewski-Minnesota-Orchestra-Bol%C3%A9ro-La-Valse/release/7019841>

Maybe he was an acquired taste. I like the performance on the disc
just fine, but a much more classical-oriented friend doesn't. Given
what the SACD is now selling for, I can't be the only one with a
favorable opinion.

<https://translate.google.com/#pl/en/Skrowaczewski> says I almost had
the pronunciation correct but botched the penultimate vowel.

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