Born in Lwów, Poland in 1923, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski made his pianistic debut at age 11 on Polish radio, and in 1936 played and conducted Beethoven's Third Concerto at the Lwów Musical Association.
He studied conducting, composition, musicology, and philosophy in Lwów, and concluded his graduate studies in Kraków in 1946. Skrowaczewski won the Szymanowski Composition Prize in 1947, which enabled him to travel to Paris for study with Boulanger and Kletzki from 1947-1949. His directorship of the Wroclaw, Katowice, and Kraków orchestras from 1946-1956 led to the directorship of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra from 1956-1959. In 1958, Skrowaczewski made his American debut in Cleveland, and his New York debut in 1960, the latter of which had a great success. That same year, he left Poland and eventually became director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra until 1979. After this, he concentrated more on composing, producing a substantial quantity of symphonies and instrumental and film music, but still found time to be the principal conductor of the Hallé Orchestra from 1984-1991 and the music director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra from 1987-1988. By his 90th birthday, Skrowaczewski held emeritus or laureate titles with several orchestras, and had undertaken part of the Wroclaw Philharmonic's project to record all of Lutoslawski's orchestral music. Skrowaczewski's conducting style was likened to that of Szell's, with an emphasis on careful preparation and precise playing. Although Skrowaczewski seldom utilized his position as a conductor to promote and program his compositions, some of them have gained traction, particularly his Concerto for Orchestra, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Skrowaczewski died in February 2017 in Minneapolis at the age of 93.