Stanisław Skrowaczewski (b. 1923) – one of the most internationally valued Polish conductors, and a composer. In the years of the occupation, he studied composition and conducting in his home Lviv. After the war, he continued his studies on a scholarship in Paris under Nadia Boulanger, Arthur Honegger, and Paweł Klecki. In the years 1949-1954 he was director of the Silesian Philharmonic. A winning prize at the competition in Rome (1956) opened his way to the West. He settled in the United States, where for 19 years he led the orchestra in Minneapolis. He gives concert appearances in the entire world, and is specially valued for his interpretation of Bruckner.
Skrowaczewski met Witold Lutosławski shortly after the war, and after this moment he closely followed his creative development. At the commencement of his career, when he directed the Silesian Philharmonic, he conducted many of Lutosławski’s compositions. Among those, he values the Concerto for Orchestra the most, and has included it in the majority of his debuts with important orchestras of the world – in Cleveland, Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, Minneapolis, and Israel. He admits that he “gave first presentations of the piece with great success in many places in the West, and especially America”. The Concerto was received with enthusiasm at the World Exhibition in Brussels in 1958, where Skrowaczewski gave performances with Poland’s National Philharmonic Orchestra. He also often performed Funeral Music, and was one of the first to conduct the Symphony no. 2, Livre pour orchestre, and the Cello Concerto (with Mstislav Rostropovich); moreover, he considers the Symphony no. 4 to be a masterwork. In an interview he said of the Interlude connecting the Partita and Chain II, written for Anne-Sofie Mutter: “I like it very much, but it is too short for a concert performance; so I play it twice, because it doesn’t really seem to end... And it doesn’t sound like a repetition... So I told Witold: ‘It is so simple, yet so full of colours, it is unbelievable...’. And he, as always modestly replied: ‘Well, one attains this after a life full of struggles...’”.
Presently, in the Year of Lutosławski, Stanisław Skrowaczewski performs the Polish master’s works in concert halls throughout the world. (kt/mk)