I do not admire any person more than I do Herbert Blomstedt.
He remains completely loyal to his Adventist community: He is endowing the library at the Adventist College in Sweden, and attends the Sabbath morning service of whatever Adventist church is closest to where he is performing, as well as leading out in his home church in Lucerne, Switzerland.
At the same time, Blomstedt has respected and revered music enough to set standards for interpreting composers, to the point that the world music community has invited him to be the musical director of the historic Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhous Orchestras, as well as — for ten years – the San Francisco Symphony. He has been a musical scholar, a leaders and teacher of musical communities, and a performer. Throughout he has kept a witty sense of proportion about himself and those around him.
Even more, Blomstedt understands music to be much more than opportunities to perform. Music, for Blomstedt, is a journey to the transcendent. He often expresses his respect for the choice his musically talented brother, Norman, made to be a physician. But Blomstedt also respects his own choice of vocation. For him, the religious experience is not only morally praiseworthy behavior; the religious experience includes moments of exaltation, when we are transported to the portals of the divine. Ultimately, for Blomstedt music is worship.
Herbert Blomstedt discusses Bach’s Mass in B minor – “A legacy – An honor to God, a pleasure for the spirit – An ecumenical bridge.”
Three weekends in March, Herbert Blomstedt conducted on successive weekends the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
For the most part, the programs focused on well-known German-Austrian composers. However, in Boston he conducted music by Carl Nielsen (the Danish composer of whom Blomstedt is considered the world’s greatest interpreter). He also conducted Mozart (Piano Concerto, No. 18 in B flat), and Brahms (Symphony No. 4). In Washington, D.C. Blomstedt led the National Symphony in playing Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, and the Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic (whose musical director, Esa Pekka Salonen had earlier followed Blomstedt as the conductor of the Stockholm Symphony), Blomstedt explored the work of two earlier composers—Hayden and Handel, as well as Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3. Attached is a review of the concert he led in Los Angeles the last weekend of March.
Blomstedt is scheduled to conduct again in the United States in 2010.
Mass in B minor BWV 232 (Thomaskirche 2005, Blomstedt)