NHK Symphony Orchestra (located in Tokyo, Tamaki Imai, Chairman) presents the title of Honorary Conductor Laureate to Maestro Herbert Blomstedt, Honorary Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro Blomstedt first appeared on the NHK Symphony Orchestra podium in November 1981, and since then he has returned to Tokyo to conduct the Orchestra on a regular basis. He became Honorary Conductor in 1986. During the past 35 years with the Orchestra, he has taken up symphonies by Beethoven, Mozart, Bruckner and Brahms, as well as many other masterpieces such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bach’s Mass in B minor, Beethoven’s the Missa Solemnis and pieces by Nielsen and Hindemith, fascinating audiences with his masterful and brilliant performances.
Since 2015, he has been working on the Beethoven Cycle in collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and another orchestra with which he shares a close association, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. At the end of this month, in the NHK Symphony Orchestra’s 90th anniversary year, Maestro Blomstedt will conduct Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Orchestra for the first time in 31 years. Expectations are running high for a vibrant and sprightly performance under his baton.
We hope that as many classical music lovers as possible will enjoy the beautiful sounds created as a result of the close relationship and trust that the Orchestra and our new Honorary Conductor Laureate, Maestro Blomstedt, have forged over the years, either through a live performance at the concert hall or via television or radio.
Born in the USA 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.
More than 60 years ago, 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. Together they toured over twenty European countries, the USA and Japan, and their regular collaboration continues to date.
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. From 1996 to 1998, Maestro Blomstedt was Music Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. In 1998 he assumed the position of Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, a post which he held until 2005. As Honorary Conductor of this orchestra, he returns to Leipzig regularly. Five more orchestras awarded him the title of Honorary Conductor: NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan, the Danish National Symphony and the Swedish Radio Symphony as well as the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and, most recently, in May 2016, the Staatskapelle Dresden, after already having presented him with their Golden Badge of Honour in 2007.
In addition to his commitments with these orchestras, he continues guest conducting the world’s most pre-eminent orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 2011, a late debut saw him performing with the Vienna Philharmonic which immediately resulted in a regular collaboration.
Herbert Blomstedt’s 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. In 2014, DECCA released a 15 CD box The San Francisco Years, offering a representative selection of Herbert Blomstedt’s tenure in San Francisco.
Several labels have documented his collaboration with the Gewandhausorchester. For DECCA, he recorded works of Brahms, Bruckner, Hindemith, Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss, other releases include Sandström’s High Mass for Deutsche Grammophon and Mendelssohn’s Elijah for RCA Red Seal. The German label querstand offers a selection of live concert recordings covering his tenure in Leipzig; the box set of the complete Bruckner symphonies won an International Classical Music Award in 2013.
Herbert Blomstedt, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in July 2017, holds several Honorary Doctorates and is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy. In 2003 he was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit. In April 2016, he received the prestigious Danish Léonie Sonning Music Prize for his lifetime achievement.