Emil Młynarski – conductor and musician (1870-1935)

Emil Młynarski was a Polish musician who was conductor of the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow before the First World War.

Black and white photograph of Emil Młynarski wearing a suit and hat and using a walking stick
Image credit: Wikimedia
  • Date of joining: 10 June 1913
  • Membership No: 22, Arlington Proposal Book: Supernumerary Members 1912-1916 (TD965/34)

Emil Młynarski was born in 1870 in a town called Kybartai. It’s now in Lithuania but at that time was part of the Russian Empire. 

He studied the violin in St Petersburg and learnt about composition with  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. He worked as a violinist and in 1898 he composed his Violin concerto in D minor op. 11. which won one of the five main prizes at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Composition Competition in Leipzig.

Emil Młynarski then became the founding conductor of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. 

He went on to give a series of concerts with other orchestras in Europe  and then in 1907 joined the London Symphony Orchestra for concerts in several British towns. From 1910 to 1916 he was the conductor of Glasgow’s Scottish Choral and Orchestral Union. This orchestra became today’s Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) and there’s a mention of in the RSNO history timeline.

In 1911 he published a symphony called Polonia (Symphony in F major, Op. 14) about his homeland which was dedicated to the Scottish Orchestra. This is a recording of it on YouTube.

During this time Młynarski was also conducting in London (a series of concerts of Slavic music in 1913 and a concert of British music in 1914), St Petersburg, Moscow and Berlin.

According to the Hyperion website “He continued working in Britain well into the Great War and in 1915 persuaded Elgar to write his symphonic prelude Polonia. In 1916 his wife’s Lithuanian estate was overrun by the Germans and Młynarski took his family to Moscow, where he conducted at the Bolshoi Theatre and organized symphony concerts—he was there when the 1917 Revolution erupted.”

In 1918 he went back to work in Warsaw but in “During the 1920s Młynarski returned to the Scottish Orchestra [and] premiered Szymanowski’s King Roger…”

He travelled to America in the 1920s, then returned to Poland where he died in Warsaw in 1935 at the age of 64.

His daughter Aniela (Nela, Nelly), who was a ballerina, married the pianist Arthur Rubinstein. One of their children is Michael Weston, an American television and film actor, who appeared in the TV series House,  Six Feet Under, and Scrubs.

Rubinstein first worked with Młynarski in the early 1900s. According to Hyperion he described him as:

“one of the most attractive men I had ever met. He had strangely nonchalant ways, a soft melodious voice, courteous, aristocratic manners, and he appeared to be a rather too soft character for an orchestra conductor. But the minute he walked up to his podium and took the baton in his hand, his whole attitude changed. Erect and quiet, he held his orchestra under complete control with a minimum of gestures.”

Researchers: Lindsay and Lucy

Sources:

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