The oldest conductor on the circuit?

The oldest conductor on the circuit?


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2015

Stanislaw Skrowacewski returns to London this weekend to conduct Bruckner 5th with the LPO. Stan is 92 and going strong.

Anyone beat that?


He’s a former music director in Manchester and Minnesota who never got the attention he deserved in London and New York. It’s not too late.

UPDATE: We’ve received archival confirmation that Stan is the oldest oerson ever to conduct at the Royal Festival Hall.


  • Bill H. says:

    He has also been an active composer as well.

  • MacroV says:

    Certainly nobody of his quality. I saw him conduct a number of times, in Seattle, DC (and New York), and most memorably in Boston, leading the New England Conservatory orchestra in a magnificent Bruckner 3; never saw a conductor with a more natural connection between what his body was doing and the music that resulted. And he stood with his old Minnesota band during their lockout.

  • AD says:

    Howard Cable in Canada turns 95 next month and still conducts, composes, and arranges all his own pops programs.

  • David Rowe says:

    I am not sure how old he was when he last conducted in public, but Kurt Sanderling was another ageless marvel!

  • JayBuyer says:

    The sprightly Herbert Blomstedt is pushing 90 and doing Mahler 1 at the new Paris Philharmonie next June (one hopes!)

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    He is certainly rivaling Stokowski for longevity. Congrats Maestro Stan. My treat to dinner at Daniel et Denise the next time you conduct in Lyon with Gary Graffman playing your left-hand concerto (which you wrote for him).

  • Peter says:

    Skrowaczewski’s last visit to the LPO a couple of years ago, Bruckner 7, is available on their CD label. It was a very fine concert. A great pity the Proms didn’t invite him in his 90th year, but it’s not too late! He also had a long partnership with the Saarbrucken orchestra with whom he recorded quality Bruckner and Beethoven cycles and many other things besides, all on the Oehms label. Their recent boxed set of his recordings also includes a disc of his own compositions.

    • Peter says:

      Correction: Stan was also with the LPO last year in Bruckner 3. Hurry up LPO if this is a slow burn Bruckner cycle!

  • Observer says:

    Rossini expert Alberto Zedda will be turning 88 in Jan. and he’s still very active as a conductor. Opera conductor, no less!

  • Janice Mancuso says:

    Stan IS amazing! We’ve worked with him twice, both with the Minnesota Orchestra. A super Bruckner 9 and and album of two of his concertos with pianist Gary Graffman.
    Conductors are one of the longest lived occupations. Our label worked with Frederick Fennell until he passed at 90.

  • Thomas Hogglestock says:

    Just saw him conduct last year on a trip back to Minnesota. Hadn’t seen him in about 20 years and was stunned to see him look like a 90-year old. I only hope I will be as active at 90 (of course, minus the conductor bit, that won’t happen).

  • Alan Munro says:

    I interviewed Stan about ten years ago and even then he insisted on using the stairs to get to his dressing room.

  • Fritz Curzon says:

    Having had one quite youthful client sadly pass away 36 hours after I shot him, it’s good to know that SS has survived well over thirty years since I snapped him.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Just heard Stan blow the doors off Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis with the Bruckner Seventh a few weeks ago. Incredible performance!

    A much, *much* under-appreciated artist of the first order!

  • Jevgeniy says:

    Amazing. Stan is a great. Neville Marriner is younger by a year (?) and was still working last I heard, but I think Stan is more able and agile.

    • ilio says:

      Marriner cancelled out on a concert last January due to illness. Must have been relatively bad as his doctor didn’t allow him to fly.

      • Bruce says:

        Sir Neville Marriner was conducting the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan in November. He is well, standing the whole time during rehearsals.

  • ilio says:

    Shared an elevator with him in Berlin back in May of 2011. He looked a man 20 years younger.

  • Alan Dawson says:

    Thank you Norman Lebrecht for recognising that Stan’s genius has gone unappreciated in too many capital cities. When the Berlin Phil invited him to do Bruckner 3 in 2011 it was the first time he’d been invited since 1986.

    He is still a much loved guest conductor at the Halle, 25 years after his tenure as Music Director

    • Vaquero357 says:

      And still in Minneapolis, *35* years after his stint as MD.

      When he stuck by the players during the lockout and conducted some of the “Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra” concerts, a lotta commentators said he’d never be invited back to Orchestra Hall. I took it as a sign of serious changes on the board and in the administration when he was invited to conduct the first concert after the lockout. (And has since been invited back twice more.)

      At one of the MOMO concerts, I was impressed as all get out to hear a 20-something guy sitting next to me tell his mildly interested date all about why Stan is such a great conductor.

  • troubadour says:

    Next week he will return to German radio Philharmonic, formerly Saarbrucken radio, with Bruckner VIII.
    That team recorded Bruckner and Beethoven complete symphonies, award winning in Cannes and Diaposon d’or and touring throughout Europe and Japan.

  • DESR says:

    It was marvellous… Stan the Man!

  • Dennis says:

    Harry Rabinowtiz did conduct at the LSO at either 95 or 96 and just celebrated his 100th birthday this spring. The LSO is bringing him back in November to do another. Amazing man!!