I began my day today by listening to Herbert Blomstedt, age 90, conduct the synphonies of Beethoven.
American-born Swedish conductor, Herbert Blomstedt, was born of Swedish parents, and moved with his family to Sweden in 1929. He took courses at the Stockholm Musikhögskolan and at the University of Uppsala. After conducting lessons with Igor Markevitch in Paris, he continued his training with Jean Morel at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and with Leonard Bernstein at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize in 1953. He also studied contemporary music in Darmstadt and renaissance and baroque music at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and worked with Igor Markevitch in Salzburg.
In February 1954 Herbert Blomstedt made his professional conducting debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, then was music director of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra from 1954 to 1961. He subsequently held the post of first conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1962 to 1968 while being concurrently active as a conductor with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen, where he served as chief conductor from 1967 to 1977.
From 1975 to 1985 Mr. Blomstedt was chief conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle, with which he toured over twenty European countries, the USA (1979, 1983), and Japan. From 1977 to 1983 he was chief conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm.
Here are my observations:
Blomstedt knew the score of both symphonies cold! Small wonder: At age 90,he has conducted this music dozens of times.
I particularly enjoyed his facial expressions. This man clearly loves this music, amd you can see so in his gestures and in his eyes.
He conducted without a stick, yet his gestures were totally clear. Virtually every solo was queued withna finger or a slight arm movement.
His eyes were open, ready to exchange a look with the first flute, the bassoon, or the horn player.
Bottom line: Terrific leaderahip, and total readiness to assist his musicians to achieve outstanding results.
Here is music from this DVD: