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Insights at the Atrium: "A Conversation with Herbert Blomstedt"


David Rubenstein Atrium

Price Range


Date & Times


Feb, 2019

Tuesday, 7:30 PM

Event Info

New York Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda engages conductor Herbert Blomstedt in a conversation about the highlights of his career, spanning more than 60 years. Discover the convictions and ethos of one of the most estimable artists of our time ahead of his concerts featuring masterworks by Grieg and Dvořák.

Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Subscribers, Friends at the Affiliate level and above, and Patrons may secure guaranteed admission by e-mailing AdultEd@nyphil.org.


Herbert Blomstedt


Herbert Blomstedt


Herbert Blomstedt


Noble, charming, sober, modest. Such qualities may play a major role in human coexistence and are certainly appreciated. However, they are rather atypical for extraordinary personalities such as conductors. Whatever the general public’s notion of a conductor may be, Herbert Blomstedt is an exception, precisely because he possesses those very qualities that seemingly have so little to do with a conductor’s claim to power. The fact that he disproves the usual clichés in many respects should certainly not lead to the assumption that he does not have the power to assert his clearly defined musical goals. Anyone who has attended Mr. Blomstedt’s rehearsals and experienced his concentration on the essence of the music, his precision in phrasing of musical facts and circumstances as they appear in the score, his tenacity regarding the implementation of an aesthetic view, is likely to have been amazed at how few despotic measures were required to this end. Basically, Mr. Blomstedt 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; accordingly, his interpretations combine great faithfulness to the score and analytical precision, with a soulfulness that awakens the music to pulsating life. In the more than 60 years of his career, he has acquired the unrestricted respect of the musical world. 
Born in the United States to Swedish parents and educated in Uppsala, New York, Darmstadt, and Basel, Herbert Blomstedt made his conducting debut in 1954 with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and subsequently served as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, the Swedish and Danish Radio Orchestras, and the Staatskapelle Dresden. 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 the 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 have secured the services of the highly renowned Swedish conductor. At the age of over 90, with enormous mental and physical presence, verve, and artistic drive, he continues to be at the helm of all leading international orchestras. 

Learn more about Herbert Blomstedt


Deborah Borda, Linda and Mitch Hart President and CEO

Deborah Borda, Linda and Mitch Hart President and CEO


Throughout her career Deborah Borda has extended the artistic, commercial, and technological boundaries of what an orchestra can be in the 21st century through creative leadership, commitment to innovation, and progressive vision. She became Linda and Mitch Hart President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic in 2017, having served in that role in the 1990s. The first woman in recent history to manage a major American symphony orchestra, she has held top posts at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She currently serves as Chair of the Avery Fisher Artist Program.

Upon returning to the Philharmonic, Ms. Borda renewed the organization’s commitment to serving as New York’s orchestra. She worked with Music Director Jaap van Zweden to deepen the Orchestra’s community engagement through new initiatives, such as the low-cost Phil the Hall, and revitalizing educational projects, and to champion today’s music by conceiving Project 19, the single largest women composers commissioning initiative in history, and establishing two new contemporary music series. The Philharmonic quickly adapted to the landscape altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting NY Phil Bandwagon, bringing free performances by small groups of Philharmonic musicians across New York City — an initiative that has been emulated across the country — and launching NYPhil+, the Orchestra’s first-ever streaming service hosting hours of newly recorded and historic Philharmonic performances. In collaboration with Lincoln Center, under her leadership the Orchestra accelerated the renovation of David Geffen Hall, scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2022.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s success during Deborah Borda’s 17-year tenure was chosen for case studies by Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. While there, she designed a business, education, and curatorial plan credited with restoring the orchestra to robust artistic and financial health, reinvigorated plans to build and open Walt Disney Concert Hall, oversaw the addition of a new shell for the Hollywood Bowl, and reconceived and diversified programming. She spearheaded the appointment of music director Gustavo Dudamel, with whom she invested in groundbreaking educational initiatives. These include YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), a flagship program that provides free after-school instrumental instruction to children in underserved communities, and the national Take a Stand initiative, which promotes social change through music.

Ms. Borda was the first arts executive to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence and she now serves on Oxford University’s Humanities Cultural Programme Advisory Council. Recipient of Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the New England Conservatory (2021), Curtis Institute of Music, and Manhattan School of Music, her recent accolades include election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2018), being named a Woman of Influence by the New York Business Journal (2019), and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Women in Classical Music Symposium (2020). She is in demand internationally as a consultant and lecturer, and her accomplishments in the field of orchestral music have been cited in numerous reviews and articles, both nationally and internationally. A former professional violist, Deborah Borda graduated from Bennington College and continued her studies at London’s Royal College of Music.

Learn more about Deborah Borda, Linda and Mitch Hart President and CEO


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