Maestro dies: A Polish leader has fallen at 74

Maestro dies: A Polish leader has fallen at 74


norman lebrecht

November 19, 2020

On a day of many deaths, we have just learned of the passing of Gabriel Chmura, one of the finest Polish conductors of recent times.

Born in Wrocław, raised in Israel, Chmura was the first winner of the Herbert von Karajan Competition in 1971.

He went on to serve as music director in Aachen, Bochum, National Arts Center Ottawa and Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. At the time of his death he was artistic director of the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw and Poznań.

Much recorded on major labels, he was the first to draw attention to the symphonies of Mieczyslaw Weinberg.

May his memory be blessed.


  • pianoguy says:

    very sad, he was decent and dependable at worst, insightful at best – depending on the rep

  • Sad news.
    Great conductor. I attended Lady macbeth and Parsifal under his baton in Poznan where he used to be musical director of the opera. Great moments.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Very sorry to hear this, he wasn’t that old. I still remember when he came to town as a guest conductor and brought an excitement and style to the Mendelssohn 3rd that was so beautiful to hear. Orchestra players were hoping he’d be offered the music director position, but alas, it didn’t happen. RIP.

  • Edgar Self says:

    It i’s far too soon for the laureates of Karajan’s conducting prize to depart. Another early Weinberg advocate is Yuri Ahronovich, who recoerded the fifth symphony with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and Weinberg’s friend and patron, Shostakovich.

  • osg says:

    Worked with him once it Spain. He didn’t like how a cellist looked at him so he made the cellist stay at home. classy guy…. may he rest in peace.

  • microview says:

    Rather good debut LP of Mendelssohn Overtures on DG, especially ‘Calm Sea….’.

  • Menahem Pressler says:

    I am deeply deeply saddened by the loss of such a dear close friend and wonderful conductor. The shock is great because Annabelle and I were in touch with him just two months ago and he was in great form. I played with him conducting several times, when ever possible, and he was a wonderful sensitive musical accompanist. I will miss him always and may he rest in peace.

  • I am saddened to hear the bad news. Back in the 70th, before and after Gabriel won the Karajan Competitions we were close friends and conducting colleagues, appreciating the artistic values of each other. We both shared conducting tips as we had different schooling, he in Vienna, me in Italy, France and USA. If members of his family, his wife and children read these comments I would like to send them my deep condolences.
    Winston Dan Vogel

  • Christopher Deacon says:

    Very sad news. A wonderful man and a wonderful artist.

  • That’s very sad news. I saw him just a month ago, on 17th October, conducting the Orchestra del Teatro Lirico in Cagliari, Sardinia. It was a profoundly moving performance of Dvořák ’s 9th symphony followed by Anna Tifu playing Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto. With an audience of just 200 people, dotted in the stalls, masks on for the entire performance, the music came from a deep place and we cried. It was an enormous privilege to be there

  • Simca Heled says:

    So sorry!!! I was his cello soloist many times and a close friend. What a loss!!!!!

  • Kman says:

    I saw him conduct a year ago with the Warsaw Philharmonic. My first exposure to Weinberg with Sinfonietta No. 1, which was delightful.

  • Gabriel and I were students with Swarowsky in Vienna in the late 60s and together in the Siena Conducting Course with Ferrara 1969. Such a shock learning of the tragic accident that caused his life! My heartfelt sympathy to his family ! R.I.P.
    Alexis Hauser

  • David Hutchenreuther says:

    Keiko and I have many good memories of the time Maestro Chmura and his family were in Ottawa, both musical and social. We were very saddened to hear of his passing.

  • Karol A. Penson says:

    Fantastic musician, exceptional man…
    Memories of my friendship of 50 years with Gabriel (in Polish):

    Karol A. Penson

  • Lily Huberman says:

    My memory of Gabi Chmura goes back to our high school days in Israel.
    He was an exceptional musician with deep understanding of music and I always knew that he will become a star in his field.
    I am really saddened by the news and am sending my heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends.