Venerable Minnesota Orchestra conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski suffered a stroke on Sunday and is recovering from surgery, the orchestra announced Tuesday. He is in stable condition.
“The news is very upsetting for everyone in the orchestra family, but everyone has good thoughts,” said orchestra spokeswoman Gwen Pappas.
Skrowaczewski, 93, has taken the orchestra to new heights — including building Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis — during his 19 years as music director. He maintained an active work schedule despite growing frailty and heart problems in 2008 that required him to wear a pacemaker.
In October, he led the orchestra in two concerts featuring one of his favorite works, Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. Next weekend he was to lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in a program of Mozart and Brahms.
“When you’re 93,” he told the Star Tribune in a recent interview, “there’s so much work to do because there’s not much time left to do it.”
Born in Lwow, Poland, he intended to become a concert pianist like his mother. But that dream was shattered during World War II when the Nazis bombed a house near him and a wall fell on top of him.
He first caused a stir 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 Orchestra. He remained at the head of the orchestra until 1979, when he took the honorary title of laureate conductor.
Over the decades he has built a worldwide reputation and is treated like a rock star in places like Japan. A few years ago he received a 28-CD box set of his recordings from a German record company as a gift.