Herbert Blomsteadt: 95 - mentally sound as ever NDR.de - Culture - Music

Status: 11.07.2022 00:01

Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstead did not want to become a star on the podium. All he cares about is music. He was born on July 11, 1927, and today he celebrates his 95th birthday – and he still drives.

by Frederick Westerhouse

“I’m doing great, horribly. I have a bit of a cough now, but it will pass. I wish I didn’t cough at the concert. I feel great, I’m so grateful” in mid-June, a few weeks before his 95th birthday, says Herbert Blomsteadt. He is a guest of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, one of the twelve teams he continues to run regularly. “His family,” he said. He conducts Brackner’s comprehensive Seventh Symphony by heart, he’s as healthy as ever. Shortly thereafter, the fall forced him to cancel shows in Berlin and his birthday parties in Leipzig. Age has left its mark on him, too. But when Bloomstead was on the stage, he cast a spell on the orchestra and the audience.

Herbert Blomsteadt: “Without the intellectual energy of a leader, music loses its soul.”

“The energy that comes from the conductor is mental energy,” Blomstedt says. “It shouldn’t be physical energy—the orchestra brings it on itself. But spiritual energy! They need a unified will. If it’s not there, music loses its soul.” The realization that Herbert Blomsteadt has evolved over many years. He says his movements are getting smaller. Learn to let go.

Blomstedt is modest and unpretentious – a student, even at the age of 95. On stage he was incredibly awake and present. He knows exactly what momentum is required of him. When he absolutely loves music, his eyes sparkle. For him, music is a source of strength. Even if he does an action dozens of times, he always rethinks it: “I take so many notes because I study the scores so carefully that each note has its own meaning.”

Extroverted, curious and amazing

His initial musical spark came when he first heard Bruckner’s symphony during his student days in Gothenburg – IV: “It was a wonderful experience. It enchanted me! And when the tone changed after only two bars, it was such a revelation – just a noticeable difference!” Blomstedt retained With his openness, curiosity, and amazement about music to this day. “One matures better alone with the grades,” says the conductor. “And at the same time: live naturally. Because music doesn’t work properly if it’s not a mirror of life.”

95 years and fitness through yoga and giving up alcohol and meat

Part of his recipe for life is that he’s a vegetarian, doesn’t drink alcohol and has practiced yoga for decades. His faith is also important. His father was a preacher and evangelist for the Seventh-day Adventists. Herbert Blomsteadt is also very religious and sees himself as an evangelist: “But I don’t do missions for a particular faith. My job is to bring music closer to people. I have many allies there: a hundred people in an orchestra. We want it even if we represent very different religions or we don’t have faith.” Absolutely – we firmly believe in the power of music.”

Saturday is sacred to him. There are no rehearsals – there are concerts. They are not “work” for him, but “worship”. This is convenient, because Blomstedt completely puts himself at the service of music. His concerts were mostly very impressive and exhilarating, propelled by his love of music and its management. “It won’t get any easier,” Blomstedt says. “But maybe when you’re 60 or 70 you realize you’ve learned something and you can start making music now.”

More information

CD cover: Herbert Blomstedt - Schubert: Symphonies 8 & 9 © Deutsche Grammophon

Blomstedt’s Schubert cycle begins with two last symphonies: the Incomplete and the “Great” in C Major. more

Herbert Blomsteadt © Martin UK Lengemann Photo: Martin UK Lengemann
Herbert Blomstadt leads Liedholmes "Poetry" © NDR

15 minutes

Herbert Blomsteadt, conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie, as guest at the Hamburg Laeiszhalle. The 88-year-old runs Peer Gynt’s No. 1 Op. 46. ​​15 minutes

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Culture NDR | Classic a day | 07/11/2022 | 6:40 AM

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