Born in the U.S. to Swedish parents, HERBERT BLOMSTEDT began his musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and at the University of Uppsala. He later studied conducting at the Juilliard School in New York, contemporary music in Darmstadt, and Renaissance and Baroque music at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He worked with Igor Markevitch in Salzburg and Leonard Bernstein in Tanglewood.
In February 1954 Herbert Blomstedt made his debut as conductor with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He has served as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and the Swedish and Danish Radio Orchestras. From 1975 to 1985 he was chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and toured over 20 European countries, the U.S., and Japan. He continues his collaboration with this orchestra and was awarded their Golden Badge of Honor in 2007.
As guest conductor, Blomstedt has performed with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the BR Radio Symphony, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Orchestre de Paris, the Israel Philharmonic, and the NHK Symphony, of which he is Honorary Conductor.
Herbert Blomstedt is Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, where he served as Music Director from 1985 to 1995. Throughout his tenure he and the Symphony repeatedly appeared to critical acclaim at major European concert venues and festivals including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Munich, and Lucerne. From 1996 to 1998, Blomstedt was Music Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. In 1998 he assumed his position as Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, a post that he held until 2005. As Honorary Conductor of this orchestra, he returns to Leipzig regularly. In 2006, three more orchestras awarded him the title of Honorary Conductor: the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony as well as the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which he has been conducting since 1982. In addition, he continues guest conducting the world’s most pre-eminent orchestras.
His extensive discography includes over 130 works with the Dresden Staatskapelle, amongst them all symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the complete orchestral works of Carl Nielsen with the Danish Radio Symphony. With the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra he recorded exclusively for Decca; several of the numerous recordings received major awards; the complete cycles of the symphonies of Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen enjoy reference standard.
Several labels have documented his collaboration with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester. For Decca, he recorded Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, Hindemith’s “Sinfonia serena” and “Die Harmonie der Welt,” piano concertos of Mendelssohn, and works by Richard Strauss. Releases also include Sandström’s “High Mass” for Deutsche Grammophon and Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” for RCA Red Seal. The German label Querstand released a box of live concert recordings covering the Leipzig period from 1998 to 2005; their recording of the complete Bruckner symphonies is being continued. Symphonies Nos. 6, 7, and 8 have already been released to great critical acclaim; Symphony No. 5 was released at the beginning of the season 2010/2011.
Herbert Blomstedt, who celebrates his 85th birthday in July 2012, has received several Honorary Doctorates and is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy and he was awarded the “Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz” by the German Federal President Johannes Rau.