The 2017 Brahms Prize of 10,000 euros was presented to the Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt and held in the St. Bartholomew Church in Wesselburen (Kreis Dithmarschen / Schleswig-Holstein). The Brahms-Society Schleswig-Holstein pays tribute to artists who have earned the prize by dedication to the music and the artistic heritage of Johannes Brahms.
The Brahms Prize has been awarded since 1988. Blomstedt, who turned 90 on July 11, has been part of more than 90 concerts during the year with well-known orchestras in Europe and Asia, followed by other prizes such as Leonard Bernstein, Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Anne-Sophie Mutter. The Swedish conductor is especially known for his performances of German and Austrian composers such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Bruckner and Strauss with renowened orchestras.
Conductor of numerous orchestras
Blomstedt was born on July 11, 1927 in the US as the son of an Adventist pastor. He received his first musical training at the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm and at the University of Uppsala. Later, he studied conducting at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, contemporary music in Darmstadt, and Renaissance and Baroque music at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, and worked under Igor Markevitch in Salzburg and Leonard Bernstein in Tanglewood, USA.
In February 1954 Blomstedt debuted as a conductor with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, as chief conductor, he directed important Scandinavian orchestras such as the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the latter until 1983. From 1975 to 1985 he was chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden. For the next ten years, he worked as a music director at the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. From 1996 to 1998 he was chief conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. From 1998 to 2005 he directed the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.
Herbert Blomstedt is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy with several honorary doctorate degrees. In autumn of 2003, he received the Federal Cross of Merit. He still remains an honorary member of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, of which he was the eighteenth conductor. This distinction also granted him six other orchestras: the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan, the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and the Staatskapelle Dresden, which had already awarded him with the Golden Badge of Honour.
Blomstedt Prize for students of Friedensau College
Herbert Blomstedt, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has also donated a prize himself. In memory of his wife Waltraud, who died in 2003, the Adventist Theological College of Friedensau, Magdeburg, has awarded the "Waltraud and Herbert Blomstedt Scholarship", of 500 euros. Students can use this scholarship towards an excellent Bachelor's or Master's degrees in the areas of Theology, Christian Social Work or an artistic degree in Church Music at the institute.