Noble, charming, sober, modest. Such qualities may play a major role in human coexistence and are certainly appreciated, but are rather atypical in extraordinary personalities such as conductors. Whatever the public’s notion of a conductor may be, Herbert Blomstedt is an exception, precisely because he possesses those very qualities that seemingly have little to do with a conductor’s claim to power. Yet the fact that he disproves many clichés should not lead one to assume that he does not have the power to assert his clearly defined musical goals. Anyone who has attended his rehearsals and experienced his concentration on the essence of the music, precision in the phrasing of musical facts and circumstances as they appear in the score, and tenacity regarding the implementation of an aesthetic view, is likely to have been amazed at how few despotic measures were required. He has always represented the type of artist whose professional competence and natural authority make all external emphasis superfluous. His work as a conductor is inseparably linked to his religious and human ethos; his interpretations combine great faithfulness to the score and analytical precision, with a soulfulness that awakens the music to pulsating life. Throughout the 60-plus years of his career he has acquired the unrestricted respect of the musical world.
Herbert Blomstedt — born in the United States to Swedish parents and educated in Uppsala, New York, Darmstadt, and Basel — gave his conducting debut in 1954 with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; he subsequently served as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, Swedish and Danish Radio Orchestras, and Dresden Staatskapelle. Later, he became music director of the San Francisco Symphony, chief conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His former orchestras in San Francisco, Leipzig, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Dresden, as well as the Bamberg Symphony and NHK Symphony Orchestra, have all honored him with the title of conductor laureate.
Herbert Blomstedt holds several honorary doctorates, is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy, and was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit. Over the years, all leading orchestras around the globe have been fortunate to secure his services. Celebrating his 95th birthday in 2022, with enormous mental and physical presence, verve, and artistic drive, he continues to be at the helm of all leading international orchestras.