FRED HARRIS BOOK REVIEW

Bruckner Journal Review

Frederick Edward Harris Jr.

Seeking the Infinite: The Musical Life of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
(Create Space 2011) 634pp  ISBN 1439257744    www.seekingtheinfinite.com

… Frederick Harris Jr.’s magnificent biography, Seeking the Infinite, traces the life of this great maestro and composer from his earliest days in Poland, surviving the extremes of Naziism and Stalinism, through his time in Paris where he worked with Nadia Boulanger and joined the avant-garde composer group Zodiaque, to his career as music director of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years. Seven years with the Hallé in Manchester followed, and today he is the Conductor Laureate of the Minnesota Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, and Honorary Conductor Laureate of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.  Interesting biographies of conductors can be difficult to write because the life is so much in the music and its performance, and hence the story of it can easily degenerate into a mere list of dates, orchestras and performances.  The best ones, such as Peter Heyworth’s biography of Otto Klemperer and Tanya Tintner’s biography of Georg Tintner, whilst fulfilling the requirement for the essentials of that mundane information, rise above it to present a vivid narrative of the maestro’s life, giving some insight into how his character and his times interact. The reader is given the option to conjecture how these might impinge on the interpretations, so enhancing the understanding of performances, giving an added dimension to their eloquence.  Seeking the Infinite achieves this goal admirably. A well constructed and thoroughly readable account of Skrowaczewski’s musical life, the result of many years of painstaking research and 230 interviews, it gives intriguing insights into the composer/conductor’s personality, musical aspirations and working practices. … FULL REVIEW

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