Venerable Minnesota Orchestra conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski suffered a stroke Sunday and is recovering after surgery, the orchestra announced Tuesday. He is in stable condition.
“The news is very upsetting to everyone in the orchestra family but everyone is channeling good thoughts,” said orchestra spokeswoman Gwen Pappas.
Skrowaczewski, 93, took the orchestra to new heights — including the construction of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis — during his 19-year tenure as music director. He has maintained an active work schedule despite increasing frailty and heart problems in 2008 that caused him to get a pacemaker.
In October, he conducted the orchestra in two concerts featuring one of his favorite works, Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. This coming weekend he was scheduled to lead the Dallas Symphony in a program of Mozart and Brahms.
“When you are 93,” he told the Star Tribune in a recent interview, “there is so much work to do because there is not a lot of time left to do it.”
Born in Lwow, Poland, he intended to become a concert pianist like his mother. But that dream was dashed during World War II when the Nazis bombed a house near him and a wall fell on him.
He first made a splash in the United States when he conducted the Cleveland Orchestra in 1958. Two years later, he was hired by what was then the Minneapolis Symphony. He stayed at the orchestra’s helm until 1979, when he took the honorary title of conductor laureate.
Over the decades he has built a global reputation and is treated like a rock star in places like Japan. A few years ago, he was given the gift of a 28-CD boxed set of his recordings from a German record label.