A maverick maestro turns 70

A maverick maestro turns 70


norman lebrecht

March 01, 2014

There is no easy way to describe Leif Segerstam.

Several times larger than life, with beard and appetites to match, he has written 261 symphonies (at the latest count) and, when not guest conducting around Europe, is music director at Malmo Opera.

He turns 70 on March 2. Not that anyone would know it.

leif segerstam


  • He is a special Maestro–deeply sensitive and imaginative. I found his Maher superb, distinctive. And he conducted a great Bohème at the Met, with Corelli as Rodolpho. Happy Birthday, Maestro! May you reach 1,000 Symphonies and 10,000 years!

  • Geoff Radnor says:

    He has some great recordings of works by Sibelius with the danish radio orchestra. And he is not one of the BIG names.

  • sdReader says:

    @ Maestro Segerstam, why on Earth did you step out of the Munich Rosenkavaliers after leading a few performances so powerfully? (We got a baby to replace you, at first.)

  • Michael says:

    When the Finns celebrated the 70th anniversary of their sovereignty in 1987, he gust conducted the Austrian Radio Orchestra in Vienna – a magnificent performance of the Kullervo symphony, which I had never heard before. Absolutely wonderful.

  • Philippe Vandenbroeck says:

    In intriguing and unconventional maestro. I have come to love his DNRSO Sibelius a lot. Here is a wonderful selection of Segerstam captured during rehearsal: http://www.grahamnasby.com/misc/musichumour_leif-segerstam-quotations.shtml

  • Philippe Vandenbroeck says:

    An intriguing and unconventional maestro. I have come to love his DNRSO Sibelius a lot. Here is a wonderful selection of Segerstam quotes captured during rehearsal: http://www.grahamnasby.com/misc/musichumour_leif-segerstam-quotations.shtml

  • Mark Stratford says:

    It show how odd the whole music business when Segerstam is so little known. He’s a marvel

  • Alex Leach says:

    Wonderful conductor of Sibelius and Mahler – and Wagner, we heard him conduct a magnificent performance of Die Walkure on a trip to Helsinki 2 years ago. Best wishes, maestro!

    • C. says:

      I played under his baton last year. Great humanity, exulting with Sibelius. Always in his world, witty, funny, excesive in lots of ways. We also played one of his symphonies. I’ll say nothing, out of respect.

      Happy birthday to him.

  • W. Gallagher says:

    Besides his performances of Sibelius and Mahler, I especially treasure his recordings of the Pettersson symphonies, which have done much to make that too little recognized composer better known.