2012 Forty Under 40: Krzysztof Urbanski

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Krzysztof Urbanski
Where were you, and what were you doing in 1991?
I was 9 years old and in primary school in Pabianice, Poland. I didn’t know that such thing as classical music existed.

When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
A conductor. I knew that conducting was my passion and that I wanted to devote my professional life to this activity. Now I am happy that my work can bring me such diverse and precious emotions and feelings of fulfillment.

Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
Winning the Prague Spring Conducting Competition in 2007.

Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
I don’t have such long-term plans. Please ask me in 20 years.


Music director, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Age: 29

Much has been made of Krzysztof Urbanski being the youngest music director of any major North American orchestra. Urbanski thinks how one approaches the music—not age—is the most important factor in his work.

“When you can offer a lot from yourself, your age doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I am sure it isn’t an impediment in my collaboration with ISO. Understanding, feeling the music is only the matter of sensitivity and approach to art.”

Urbanski’s four-year term with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra began Sept. 1. He’s the seventh director in the orchestra’s 80-year history, and he also serves as chief conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway.

Urbanski grew up in Poland and became interested in music when a friend showed him how to play piano.

“I was so impressed,” he said, “that I decided to sign up to music school and discover the world of music by myself.”

Some years later, he found himself conducting—by accident. “I asked youth orchestra to play my compositions, but there was no one to lead them,” he said. “I found conducting great fun and decided to learn how to do it professionally.”

Urbanski graduated from the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw, Poland, in 2007. He was unanimous first-prize winner of the Prague Spring International Conducting Competition later that year.

He will conduct the ISO for six weeks during the 2011-2012 season and a minimum of 10 weeks the following season. The first three years of his appointment will run concurrent with his post in Trondheim.

Beyond music, Urbanski is interested in astronomy and fast cars—so he’s in the right city. His goal is to get to know the ISO better.

“I look forward to what our collaboration can bring,” he said, “and hope it will be very exciting for me and the orchestra as well as for the audience.”•


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