How Herbert Blomstedt gets on stage

How Herbert Blomstedt gets on stage


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2022

He’s 95 and still conducting at least once a week, with a little help from his many friends.

Here, Herbert is being supported in Copenhagen by DR concertmaster Christina Åstrand on one side, and a walking frame on the other.

Whatever it takes.

photo: Søren Krabbe


  • Bostin'Symph says:

    Fantastic!! I hope a few composers around the world are composing pieces for him to conduct to celebrate his 100th birthday!

  • Gustavo says:

    Det outsläckliga!

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    As we say in Sweden, ”När jag dör skall det vara med stövlarna på!”

  • GUEST says:

    A couple of seasons ago, he was interviewed for the BP Digital Concert Hall during a week when he was conducting Bruckner. His energy, animation and enthusiasm were simply astonishing. I played a concerto with him in San Francisco in the mid 80s- only his hair color has changed!

  • Anton says:

    Bruckner monument:

    Querstand VKJK-1230 (ten CDs), recorded 2005 to 2012.

    To quote one reviewer: “the best modern integral Bruckner cycle … in unbelievably spectacular sound. … in the aggregate, the achievement is a stunner. The price however is DEMENTED.”

    Another: “I now have 13 complete box sets of Bruckner symphonies. This set is Number One of the thirteen. Or of my whole CD collection of over 30 years.”

    Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
    Herbert Blomstedt

    • Gustavo says:

      OK, but why is it then out of print?

      I also like Jochum (Dresden), Wand (Cologne), Haitink (Amsterdam) and Gergiev (Munich).

    • Herr Doktor says:

      I appreciate the enthusiasm for Blomstedt overall, and even for his Bruckner. I think he’s a fabulous conductor and I have heard many wonderful concerts under his baton. I will never forget a live Brahms 1 with the SFSO I heard in the early 1990s.

      But let’s be a bit more balanced about Blomstedt’s Bruckner cycle. It is a wonderful achievement overall, but it does not reach the (unattainable) heights of Karajan’s DG magnificent cycle, which many consider to be the finest Bruckner cycle ever realized by any conductor. Or even to a lesser extent Jochum’s first (DG) cycle with the BPO & Bav. RSO, and Skrowaczewski’s cycle with Saarbrucken (very well interpreted, but unfortunately performed by a lesser-tier orchestra that is not the equal of the great orchestra in these other cycles).

      The highlights of Blomstedt’s Bruckner cycle are the magnificent performances of B8, B6, and B3 – all great performances. And at the other end of the spectrum are unsuccessful performances of B2 & B5. The rest fall somewhere in-between. I agree that the Leipzig performances exceed all of Blomstedt’s earlier Bruckner recordings of the same symphonies with other orchestras (or in the case of B9 the same one).

      But in the case of Bruckner and Leipzig, there is another conductor that my ears tell me whose achievements exceed even Blomstedt’s. Any guesses who I’m referring to?

      Nope, not Andris Nelsons.

      I’m referring to Franz Konwitschny. His Bruckner recordings in Leipzig may not have the greatest sound. But what performances!

      May Herbert Blomstedt live to 100 and beyond. And I hope I’m lucky enough to keep hearing his live concerts in Boston. But in my very personal opinion, he is a wonderful Bruckner conductor but does not reach the ranks of the all-time great Bruckner conductors like Karajan, Jochum, Giulini, Ferdinand Leitner, Skrowaczewski, etc.

    • Julien says:

      The Bruckner cycle will be reissued by Accentus Music in January ou February.

  • phf655 says:

    Bernard Haitink having left us, he is the reigning Brucknerian. He says he is booked through his 100th birthday, but I hope Blomstedt remains with us through the Bruckner bicentennial year of 2024.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Come on, we want him beyond his own centennial, and as spruce and sharp as ever.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I’m not a Bruckner fan but Blomstedt is one in a million. I’m betting he knows that a life without great music isn’t much of a life at all!! Well, it’s far less than it could be!!

  • Barry says:

    He’s scheduled to conduct Bruckner’s 4th in Philadelphia in a few months.

  • Per Sveum Larssen says:

    Never met such a gentle and humble person in my entire life. Old school. A true Gentleman and always almost obsessed with every little detail in the score, that thrive for musical perfection. Rehearsals with him feel like being back at school!

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Oh yes, yes, this is wonderful and inspiring!

    Herbert is not the only ancient relic getting help, and this care is not VIP level. Muti is the primeval antique who enjoys the most special ….. VIP assistance in Chicago! Especially after afternoon rehearsals, all paid by Alexander!! :-DDD

  • alan says:

    And he’s still learning new works, a marvel and inspiration to us all.

  • M McGrath says:

    Go, Blomstedt, go. You’re an inspiration.

  • Igor Tomaszewski says:

    I had a chat with Maestro Blomstedt right after the concert and just as on the previous occasion in March (a magisterial Bruckners 4th) he engaged himself with all devotees and fans that had gathered even if it took him a more than a while. Allegedly his temporary use of a rollator is due to the effects of some accident from which he is recuperating.

  • Jake Keller says:

    My favorite conductor. Long life and health.

  • Renata says:

    Stokowski was booked till 100! He died 45 years ago,1977, born 1882

    • Petros Linardos says:

      In a couple weeks, when Blomstedt (b. 11-Jul-1927) surpasses Stokowski (18-April-1882 – 13-September-1977) in longevity, he will become the oldest ever active top conductor, I think.