Born in Poland, Skrowaczewski began studying piano and violin aged four, and wrote his first symphonic piece aged 7. A hand injury during World War II forced him to abandon his career as a concert pianist and focus on composing and conducting.
Following the war Skrowaczewski studied with Nadia Boulanger and co-founded the avant-garde ensemble Zodiaque. After winning the 1956 International Competition for Conductors in Rome, he appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Symphonies, and in 1960 was appointed music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. From 1984 to '91, he was principal conductor of the Hall_ Orchestra.
A noted Bruckner interpreter, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1999 for his recording of Bruckner's ninth symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra. His own compositions have also won acclaim: his Concerto for Orchestra shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Recent compositions include Symphony, which the Minnesota Orchestra premiered in 2003, and his Violin Concerto, commissioned and premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Earlier works include a Concerto for Clarinet, Concerto for English Horn, and Ricercari Notturni.
Skrowaczewski first appeared with the YNSO in 1978 and has been a regular collaborator over the years. He plans to focus on Bruckner, Romantic concertos, and 20th-century repertoire during his two-year tenure with the orchestra.