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Herbert Blomstedt | Picture: Martin U. K. Lengemann

Herbert Blomstedt is an Institution. His natural authority, his calm yet alert personality and his unconditional dedication to the work make him an exceptional conductor. On 10, 11 and 12 June he will conduct - again in front of an audience - Jean Sibelius' Fourth Symphony and Johannes Brahms' Third Symphony. You can also enjoy the concert on 12 June live in the Digital Concert Hall.

Born in the USA in 1927 to Swedish parents, he may be one of the oldest representatives of his field – but hardly anyone surpasses him in terms of youthful spirit. His secret? “I’m in love with music,” as he says in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall. “As soon as I hear the sound of the orchestra, I am transformed – there is no body, no age, only the music and the joy of it.”

An accidental career

He came to conducting rather by chance, when he was a member of the university choir during his violin studies at the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm and was once allowed to conduct two movements from Brahms’ Requiem. “I really enjoyed it. There is something beautiful about being able to shape an ensemble.” This experience set his professional direction: he trained as a conductor at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and in Darmstadt (contemporary music) and Basel (Renaissance and Baroque music). He also received major inspiration when he was an assistant to Igor Markevitch and Leonard Bernstein.

Long-standing friend of the Berliner Philharmoniker

In 1976, Herbert Blomstedt made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker – together with the then 20-year-old pianist Krystian Zimerman. Press attention focused primarily on Zimerman, who had recently won the Chopin Competition, but Blomstedt’s conducting qualities were not left unmentioned: the tenor of the critics was that he impressed with enthusiasm and conviction. Blomstedt, who in the course of his career has been head of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, among others, has been invited by the Berliner Philharmoniker time and again. 

In recent years, the collaboration between conductor and orchestra has intensified, and almost every year he appears with the orchestra, with which he shares a warm friendship after all these years: “The Berliner Philharmoniker is an enormously cosmopolitan orchestra. As a guest, this fills me with awe and inspires me.” Herbert Blomstedt is considered a specialist in the symphonies of Anton Bruckner and the works of Johannes Brahms, whose music – according to the conductor – “warms the heart and delights the mind”.

5 questions for Herbert Blomstedt

We asked our Instagram community, ”What do you want to know about Herbert Blomstedt?“ In the video he answers five of these questions.