Stanislaw Skrowaczewski turns 85 today! He was born in Lviv, started to learn the violin and the piano at 4, composed his first “symphonic” piece at 7 and gave his first public piano recital at 11. At 13 he performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in the double role of pianist and conductor. After an injury of both hands, sustained during World War II, he turned solely to composition and conducting. He studied with Roman Palester, Walerian Bierdiajew (also Henryk Czyz’s teacher) and later with Nadia Boulanger (which Polish composer hasn’t? 😉 ). In 1956 George Szell invited him to conduct the Cleveland Orchestra. For 19 years (starting in 1960) he was chief conductor of Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (later renamed Minnesota Orchestra). Then, 1984-91 he led the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester. He is currently principal conductor of The Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Of his recordings, the complete set of Bruckner symphonies (including both the “0” and “00”!) recorded with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra met with especial acclaim (for his Bruckner interpretations Skrowaczewski has received the Gold Medal of the Mahler-Bruckner Society, and for this set – the Cannes award, whatever that is). His accomplishments as composer remain somewhat dwarfed by his conducting achievements, but he has continued to write throughout his career.
Of the photographs available online, this one, taken by Alina Kurczewska, appears to be the most recent (taken in July):here)
In 2004 Skrowaczewski received a honorary doctorate from the Music Academy in Wroclaw (now called the The Karol Lipinski University of Music in Wroclaw). The ceremony was held at the famous Leopoldinum hall. I cannot help but post a photo, adding the other one with Skrowaczewski as a pretext:POLMIC page)