Adventist Conductor Herbert Blomstedt Wins Brahms Prize

The 2017 Brahms Prize of 10,000 euros was presented to the Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt on June 10. The ceremony was held in the St. Bartholomew Church in Wesselburen (Kreis Dithmarschen / Schleswig-Holstein). The Brahms-Society Schleswig-Holstein pays tribute to artists who have earned the prize by dedication to the music and the artistic heritage of Johannes Brahms.

The Brahms Prize has been awarded since 1988. Past winners include Leonard Bernstein, Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Anne-Sophie Mutter. Blomstedt, who turns 90 on July 11, will be part of more than 90 concerts during this year with well-known orchestras in Europe and Asia. The Swedish conductor is especially known for his performances of German and Austrian composers such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Bruckner and Strauss with renowned orchestras.

Conductor of numerous orchestras

Blomstedt was born on July 11, 1927 in the US as the son of an Adventist pastor. He received his first musical training at the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm and at the University of Uppsala. Later, he studied conducting at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, contemporary music in Darmstadt, and Renaissance and Baroque music at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, and worked under Igor Markevitch in Salzburg and Leonard Bernstein in Tanglewood, USA.

In February 1954 Blomstedt debuted as a conductor with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, as chief conductor, he directed important Scandinavian orchestras such as the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the latter until 1983. From 1975 to 1985 he was chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden. For the next ten years, he worked as a music director at the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. From 1996 to 1998 he was chief conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. From 1998 to 2005 he directed the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.

Herbert Blomstedt is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy with several honorary doctorate degrees. In autumn of 2003, he received the Federal Cross of Merit. He still remains an honorary member of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, of which he was the eighteenth conductor. This distinction was also granted to him by six other orchestras: the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan, the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and the Staatskapelle Dresden, which had already awarded him with the Golden Badge of Honour.

Blomstedt Prize for students of Friedensau College

Herbert Blomstedt, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has also donated a prize himself. In memory of his wife Waltraud, who died in 2003, the Adventist Theological College of Friedensau, Magdeburg, was awarded the endowed "Waltraud and Herbert Blomstedt Scholarship." Students can use this scholarship of 500 euros towards Bachelor's or Master's degrees in the areas of Theology, Christian Social Work or an artistic degree in Church Music at the institute.

This article was originally published by APD – the Adventist Press Service & EUD News.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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This is a nice honor for a fine musician whose love for the great Germanic symphonies has run long and deep. I have had the privilege to witness him conduct the San Francisco Symphony numerous times, and it is always a delight.


Herbert Blomstedt still repeatedly is also conducting in Vienna “Musikverein”. On occasion of the performance of Brahms “Deutsches Reuqiem” - astandard on Viennese concert programs - newspapers stressed his “deep religious foundation”.


They sure waited a long time to make that award. What if Brother Blomstedt had died in his 80’s? As it is, he is still conducting in his 90’s. My husband and I met H.B. in Leipzig. When he found out that we are from Bloomington IN, he said he was going to be at IU in the near future. We invited him to eat with us when he came. When he came, he called to say he was in town and he was ready to come over whenever we said. Needless to say we were highly honored to have him at our table. He was very easy to talk with; we even knew some of the same people in the Adventist world. Being with him was a privilege we will never forget. Jean Rhoads