Noble, charming, sober, modest. Such qualities may play a major role in human co-existence and are certainly appreciated. However, they are rather atypical for 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 so little to do with a conductor's claim to power.
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 Blomstedt’s rehearsals and experienced his concentration on the essence of the music, the precision in the phrasing of musical facts and circumstances as they appear in the score and the 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, he has always represented that 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, and 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 upstate New York, Darmstadt and Basel, 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 Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig. His former orchestras in San Francisco, Leipzig, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Dresden, as well as the Bamberg Symphony and the NHK Symphony Orchestra, all honored him with the title of conductor laureate.
He 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, foremost orchestras around the globe have been fortunate to secure the services of the highly respected Swedish conductor. At the age of 94, he continues to lead international orchestras with enormous mental and physical presence, verve and artistic drive.