Léonie Sonning Awards 2016

Herbert Blomstedt

Herbert Blomstedt to receive the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2016

The conductor Herbert Blomstedt is to receive the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2016 at a concert to be held on Thursday, 7 April 2016 in DR Byen, with the participation of The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DRSO) and with Herbert Blomstedt conducting.


Beethoven: Symphony no. 8
Mahler: Symphony no. 1

On the day after the prize-giving concert, Friday, 8 April, Herbert Blomstedt will give a master-class for young conductors at Koncerthuset. DRSO will participate, and the master-class will be open to the public.

A special website with TV and radio broadcasts from 1967–2014 is being planned, featuring Herbert Blomstedt and DRSO. The website is to be launched around 1 April 2015.

Herbert Blomstedt is the 14th conductor to receive the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. Predecessors include Leonard Bernstein (1965), Sergiu Celibidache (1970), Rafael Kubelik (1983), Georg Solti (1992), John Eliot Gardiner (2005) and Simon Rattle (2013).

At the age of 88 in the spring of 1916, Herbert Blomstedt will be the oldest recipient so far of the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. The pianist Arthur Rubinstein was 84 years old when he received the Music Prize in 1971.

The most recent recipient of the prize is Martin Fröst, who received the Music Prize on 10 May 2014, and on Thursday, 8 October, the British composer, conductor and pianist Thomas Adès will receive the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2015.

Apart from the honour of joining the regal line of musicians who have received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, Herbert Blomstedt will also receive the sum of DKK 600,000.

Herbert Blomstedt and Denmark

Herbert Blomstedt conducted DRSO as far back as 1955, and between 1967 and 1977 he was its chief conductor. With DRSO and a number of Nordic soloists, Herbert Blomstedt also recorded all of Carl Nielsen’s symphonies and solo concertos on the EMI label between 1973 and 1975. Since then, Carl Nielsen’s music has played a key role for Herbert Blomstedt. This resulted, in the late 1980s, in another complete recording of Carl Nielsen’s symphonies, this time with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and on the Decca label. This issue is still considered a reference recording of Carl Nielsen’s symphonies.

In 2002, Herbert Blomstedt generously provided vital initial capital for the newly initiated work on a publication of Carl Nielsen’s correspondence by donating his fee for three concerts with DRSO.

Today, Herbert Blomstedt is DRSO’s honorary conductor, and his annual concerts are one of the highlights of the season.

Herbert Blomstedt in brief

Herbert Blomstedt was born in the United States in 1927 and grew up in Sweden. After studying at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm, Herbert Blomstedt studied conducting under such figures as Igor Markevitch and Leonard Bernstein.

After a number of posts as chief conductor of Nordic orchestras, Herbert Blomstedt has been chief conductor for a number of the world’s leading orchestras, including Staatskapelle Dresden (1975–85), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (1985–95) and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (1998–2005).

Herbert Blomstedt still has a busy career as guest conductor for such orchestras as Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Boston Symphony Orchestra and leading orchestras in Scandinavia. And, as the conductor of, among others, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, he has shared his experience with younger generations.

Herbert Blomstedt is a living legend. With consistency – occasionally rigour – and with the aid of a unique work discipline, Herbert Blomstedt, for more than 50 years, has interpreted a wide range of the core composers of classical music: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Sibelius, Carl Nielsen and Paul Hindemith – always displaying a profound understanding of the distinctive nature and spirit of the individual composer.

Esben Tange
Chairman of the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation
Copenhagen, February 4th 2015

For further information contact Bente Legarth on tel. (+45) 3334 4232 / e-mail: bl@horten.dk or Torsten Hoffmeyer on tel. (+45) 3334 4231

Sale of tickets for the prize-winning concert open on 1/3 2015 via the Koncerthuset website.