Born in the U.S. 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.
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 and toured over twenty European countries, the USA and Japan. He continues his collaboration with this orchestra and was awarded their Golden Badge of Honor in 2007.
As guest conductor, Maestro Blomstedt has performed with orchestras such as the Berlin and Munich Philharmonic, BR Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, London Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic and NHK Symphony, of which he is Honorary Conductor.
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 including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Munich and Lucerne. From 1996 to 1998, Maestro Blomstedt was Music Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. In the season 1998/99 he assumed his position as Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, a post which he held until the end of the season 2004/2005. Having been appointed Honorary Conductor of this orchestra, he returns to Leipzig regularly. In 2006, three more orchestras awarded him the title of Honorary Conductor: the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony as well as the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which he has been conducting since 1982. In addition, he continues guest conducting the world's most pre-eminent orchestras.
His extensive discography includes over 130 works with the Dresden Staatskapelle, amongst them all symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert. With the Danish Radio Symphony he recorded the complete orchestral works of Carl Nielsen. 1987 he and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra signed an exclusive contract with DECCA and numerous of their recordings received major awards; his complete cycles of the symphonies of Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen enjoy reference standard.
Several labels have documented his collaboration with the Gewandhausorchester. For DECCA, he recorded Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, Hindemith's "Sinfonia serena" and "Die Harmonie der Welt", piano concertos of Mendelssohn and works by Richard Strauss. Releases also include Sandström’s "High Mass" for Deutsche Grammophon and Mendelssohn's "Elijah" for RCA Red Seal. The German label querstand released a box of live concert recordings covering the Leipzig period from 1998 to 2005; in the framework of a complete recording of Anton Bruckner's symphonies so far the Symphonies No. 8 (a recording of Herbert Blomstedt's farewell concerts with the Gewandhausorchester) No. 7 and, most recently, No. 6 have been released.
Herbert Blomstedt, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2007, received several Honorary Doctorates and is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy. In fall 2003 he was awarded the "Großes
Bundesverdienstkreuz" by the German Federal President Johannes Rau.