By Michael Moriarty
I have been listening to a conductor I’d never heard of before… or if his name was mentioned… it was too complicated a spelling to remember… at the time… but he’s a man who will fascinate me for the rest of my hopefully long, long life.
Now, 92 years of age!!”
I look him up on the computer and, by accident, find this article about him.
Seeking The Infinite
It’s the title of this great conductor/composer’s biography by Frederick Harris, Jr.
Skrowaczewski has had heart problems, as have I, yet he’s still alive at 92.
That title, Seeking The Infinite, is explained by the conductor himself:
"The reason why music moves me
At the conductor’s curtain call for an outstanding performance of an eternal favorite of mine, the Shostakovich 10th Symphony, Skrowaczewski, on his return to the stage, begs his Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra to stand and receive the tumultuous applause.
Instead, wishing, with their batons lightly tapping on their music stands, to applaud their revered maestro, Stanislaw Scrowaczewski who, not-so-incidentally, conducted the entire Shostakovich 10th Symphony by heart.
Not a conductor’s score in sight!
The whole experience of the concert and the curtain calls is unforgettably moving.
Only to be surpassed by my first experience with Scrowaczewski’s own composition entitled Pasacaglia Imaginaria!!
There are very few perfect, ultra-modern creations in music.
This is not only one of them... this piece demands repeated listenings!
I tear up at the experience of it and, most likely, will tear up in memory of it.
No artist, symphonic, literary or otherwise, has so captured the third millennium nightmare we are heading into with both such simple precision and clarion brevity… as has Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and his Pasacaglia Imaginaria.
Each moment of it clearly follows a dramatic narrative that strikes my ear and heart so profoundly that it induces, with the greatest power, the very “pity and terror” that the classic authorities have demanded from ancient Great theater’s tragedy!
Beyond all that and because of Skrowaczewski’s example, it is possible for me to actually live another 18 to 20 years.
Leopold Stokowski lived to 95! He conducted right up to the end!!
Then, I say aloud to myself, it might be possible for me to attain my composing dreams!
Scrowaczewski’s own compositions have obviously not reached the kind of recognition either he or I would hope for… yet, his entire life is my greatest inspiration now.
I had lived for four years in Minneapolis while, unbeknownst to me, Scrowacewski was conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra!
My concentration, however, could not be on music at the time. I had to keep working on my acting which never came naturally to me.
Certainly not as naturally as music has always lived within me.
However, since sight-reading music has always been my major problem, I never entered music as a profession.
The chord changes of jazz, however, have liberated me and music remains my first and greatest love.
The embarrassingly low profile for a great conductor of Scrowaczewski’s size?!
And the fact that the maestro’s biography is out of print because of that neglect by the historians and music critics?!?!
While all this examination of the nonagenarian, Stanislaw Scrowaczewski, is going on, I begin to lose my hopes for a record-breaking longevity.
Srowaczewski has a pacemaker, in much the same way I have a defibrillator, but he doesn’t have to walk with a cane as I do.
I encourage myself to think longevity… but… well… what can I say?!
Scrowaczewski is now, I suspect, my last hero and greatest role model for almost everything I revere.
For anyone interested in Maestro Scrowaczewski, this interview is most enlightening. It eventually explains, without intending to, why the Maestro is not as renowned in the world as, say, Leonard Bernstein or Herbert von Karajan.
My hero has no gift for self-promotion.
I understand that deficit most profoundly.
For more of his music?
He is, in my personal opinion, the most prophetic of modern composers.
His entire body of work is an unrelenting metaphor and prophecy for the Armageddon of World War III.
To carry a vision like that around with you for over 90 years?!
That vocation, in my adoring opinion, makes Stanislaw Scrowaczeski a Dionysian giant.
A kind of god.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.