Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow was born at Radomsko on 12 October 1928, and came under the influence of Erich Kleiber, Evgeny Mravinsky, Tullio Serafin and Bruno Walter.
He worked as principal conductor at the National Opera in Warsaw, at Royal Danish Opera and the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen and of the Rochester Philharmonic. He was music director of the RAI Orchestra in Rome and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (with which he also made commercial recordings). He also regularly guest-conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
He lectured at Colorado University and ran masterclasses at Yale and at the Manhattan School of Music. He became a French citizen and lived in Paris. He died near Lausanne, in Switzerland, on 23 December 2014, aged eighty-six.