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Press Room


Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 503-5474

Key Leadership Biographies

Herbert Blomstedt

Conductor Laureate

Herbert Blomstedt, Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, was Music Director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1998-2005 and Chief Conductor of the NDR Sinfonie in Hamburg from 1996-1998. Maestro Blomstedt made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in February 1984, in concerts that led immediately to his appointment as Music Director. In his decade at the Orchestra's helm, from September 1985 through the end of the 1994-95 season, he led the San Francisco Symphony to worldwide recognition. Together, Mr. Blomstedt and the Orchestra toured Europe, Asia, and the United States and presented concerts at such festivals as those of Salzburg, Edinburgh, and Lucerne. Their recordings on the London label have received some of the world's most important awards, including France's Grand Prix du Disque and Belgium's Caecilia Prize for Nielsen's Fourth and Fifth symphonies; Britain's Gramophone Award for Nielsen's Second and Third symphonies; Japan's Record Academy Award for Grieg's Peer Gynt; Grammy Awards for Orff's Carmina burana and Brahms's A German Requiem (Best Choral Recordings), and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra (Best Classical Engineered Recording); and the Prize of the German Record Critics for Best Recording of 1995 for Mahler's Symphony No. 2, also nominated for a Best Classical Album Grammy.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1927, Herbert Blomstedt moved with his family to Sweden in 1929. His mother, a pianist, gave him his first musical training. This led him eventually to the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and to the University of Uppsala. He continued conducting studies with the legendary Igor Markevitch, with Jean Morel at the Juilliard School, and with Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood's Berkshire Music Center. Honors and accomplishments followed quickly: in 1953 the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize; in 1954 his conducting debut (with the Stockholm Philharmonic) and first appointment as a music director (with Sweden's Norrköping Symphony); and in 1955 first prize at the Salzburg conducting competition. Mr. Blomstedt has held positions as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic, Danish Radio Symphony, and Swedish Radio Symphony. In 1975, the musicians of the Dresden Staatskapelle invited him to become their music director, and in his ten years with the ensemble he led it throughout Europe and in its first visits to the United States.

Herbert Blomstedt is in constant demand as a guest conductor and has led many of the world's greatest orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra. He has established an international reputation as a teacher of conducting, and his many distinctions include membership in the Royal Musical Academy of Stockholm, of which Beethoven was a member. In 1992 he received Columbia University's Ditson Award for distinguished service to American music. He is a Knight of the North Star, Stockholm, and a Knight of the Dannebrogen, Copenhagen.