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English Section

Polish-US conductor Joseph Herter dies in Warsaw

14.12.2019 11:37
Joseph Herter, a prominent conductor, has died in Warsaw after a long illness at the age of 74.
Joseph Herter
Joseph Herter Photo: Cantores Minores Choral Association

Born in Detroit into a family of Polish immigrants, he graduated from the School of Music at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and continued his studies in conducting, including at the Berkshire Music Institute in Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and Kurt Masur.

He served as Director of Music at several Roman Catholic parishes in Detroit.

Having settled in Poland in 1974, he initially worked as Director of Music at the American School of Warsaw, subsequently developing a career as guest conductor with the Polish National Opera in Warsaw and numerous symphony orchestras.

He gave first performances of works by such Polish composers as Witold Lutosławski, Andrzej Panufnik, Krzesimir Dębski, Piotr Moss, and Jacek Grudzień.

He carried out extensive research into Polish choral music and the life and music of the Polish composer and pianist Zygmunt Stojowski (1870-1946).

His book “Zygmunt Stojowski: Life and Music” was published by the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 2007.

He worked closely for almost three decades with the Teatr Rozrywki in Chorzów, southern Poland, conducting a host of productions including Jesus Christ Superstar, West Side Story, Cabaret and Man of La Mancha.

The last time he took his place on the conductor’s podium in Chorzów was on 8 March 2016 in what was his favourite musical - Fiddler on the Roof.

In 1990, he founded the Cantores Minores Choir of St John’s Cathedral in Warsaw, with whom he toured in many European countries and the United States, winning top awards at international competitions and festivals.

Herter’s honours include the Bronze ‘Gloria Artis’ Medal of Cultural Merit from the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, as well as awards and distinctions from the Polish Senate, the Polish Singers Alliance of America, and the Polish Union of Choirs and Orchestras.