On 11 July 2017, Herbert Blomstedt will celebrate his 90th birthday. Gewandhauskapellmeister from 1998 to 2005, Mr Blomstedt actively maintains an exceptionally close relationship with the Gewandhausorchester to this day in his role of Conductor Laureate.
Herbert Blomstedt held the position of Gewandhauskapellmeister from 1998 to 2005. At the culmination of his tenure, the Gewandhausorchester bestowed the title of Conductor Laureate upon him.
In September 2017, Herbert Blomstedt will stand at the helm of the Gewandhausorchester in the gala opening concert of its 2017/2018 anniversary season. A few weeks later, Mr Blomstedt will lead the Gewandhausorchester in one of the prodigious projects marking the 275th anniversary of its founding: a sequence of four programmes entirely comprising masterpieces of which the Orchestra performed the world premieres in the 19th century. These programmes will subsequently feature on a four-week-long tour of Europe and Far-East Asia in October/November (London, Paris, Luxembourg, Baden-Baden, Vienna, Budapest, Sapporo, Yokohama, Tokyo and Taipei).
To mark Herbert Blomstedt's birthday itself, a new complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, performed under his direction by the Gewandhausorchester, will be released on CD on the accentus music label. Symphonies No. 5, 6, 7 and 9 and the Triple Concerto will, in addition, be released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Herbert Blomstedt assumed the musical direction of the Gewandhausorchester in 1998, in succession to Kurt Masur. During his tenure as Gewandhauskapellmeister, Mr Blomstedt renewed the Orchestra in many respects, exerting significant influence on its sound and culture of playing. Considerable attention and energy was dedicated to the development of historically-informed performance practice, the traditional "German" seating of the strings was introduced, and the Orchestra's repertoire was substantially expanded. Not only did the respective œuvres of Bach, Händel, Haydn and Mozart make a significant return to the Gewandhausorchester's repertoire, but also the work of many Nordic composers featured strongly, such as that of Berwald, Sibelius, Nielsen and Stenhammar. At the same time, attention to the Orchestra's traditional core repertoire was no less a priority.
Herbert Blomstedt's veritably missionary commitment to educational work led, during his tenure, to the creation of the Gewandhausorchester's education department. Mr Blomstedt also initiated the Gewandhaus's annual Mendelssohn Festival in the 1998/1999 season, as well as fundamentally revitalising the structure and activities of the Gewandhaus choirs.
"Music should speak. I see my duty as ensuring the music says as much as possible – and I myself as little as possible." Herbert Blomstedt has always dedicated himself wholly to directing all focus towards the interpretation of music, and away from his person. His innate modesty and humanity, as well as his extraordinarily musicality, are imbued with quite unsurpassed authenticity.
"Herbert Blomstedt is, in every respect – as a human being, as a musician and as a conductor – quite exceptional. We are all enormously grateful for the colossal influence he had on Leipzig's musical life during his tenure as Gewandhauskapellmeister" summarises Gewandhaus General Director, Andreas Schulz. "The members of the Gewandhausorchester and our Leipzig audience revere Herbert Blomstedt to a degree to which barely any other musician can come close."
In addition to the exemplary discharge of his duties as Gewandhauskapellmeister, Herbert Blomstedt also actively displayed his commitment to the unique breadth of the Gewandhausorchester's work. In both 2005 and 2017 he conducted the closing concert of Leipzig's annual Bachfest in St. Thomas's Church with the Thomanerchor in performances of JS Bach's B Minor Mass; in the 2004/2005 season, Mr Blomstedt assumed the musical direction of Leipzig Opera's new staging of Beethoven's Fidelio.
Herbert Blomstedt's musical collaboration with the Gewandhausorchester has been documented extensively by a variety of record labels. The complete cycle of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner (on querstand) has achieved reference status, winning Record of the Year at the International Classical Music Awards in 2013. DECCA has released CDs featuring works by Brahms, Bruckner, Hindemith, Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss. The High Mass by Sven-David Sandström was produced by DeutscheGrammophon, Mendelssohn's Elijah by RCA Red Seal. In addition to the Bruckner symphony cycle, the querstand label released a selection of live Gewandhaus concert recordings from Mr Blomstedt's period as Gewandhauskapellmeister. Accentus music will release a CD-Box with the complete cycle of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven in July 2017 to mark Mr Blomstedt's 90th birthday.
In the coming season, Herbert Blomstedt will lead the Gewandhausorchester on a four-week-long tour to mark his 90th birthday (22 October-17 November) across Europe and to Japan and Taiwan: London (22.10), Paris (23/24.10), Luxembourg (26.10), Baden-Baden (27.10), Vienna (29.10-2.11), Budapest (3.11), Sapporo (7.11), Yokohama (9.11), Tokyo (11-13.11), Taipei (16/17.11).