Born in the U.S. to Swedish parents, Herbert Blomstedt began his musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and at the University of Uppsala. He later studied conducting at the Juilliard School in New York, contemporary music in Darmstadt and renaissance and baroque music at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He worked with Igor Markevich in Salzburg and Leonard Bernstein in Tanglewood.
In February 1954 Herbert Blomstedt made his debut as conductor with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He has served as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and the Swedish and Danish radio orchestras. From 1975 to 1985 he was chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and toured over twenty European countries, the U.S.A. and Japan, where he is Honorary Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro Blomstedt has guest conducted the world's greatest orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Munich Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra.
Herbert Blomstedt is Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony where he served as Music Director from 1985 to 1995. Throughout his tenure he and the Symphony appeared to critical acclaim at major European concert venues and festivals which included Edinburgh, Salzburg, Munich and Lucerne. In 1996, Mr. Blomstedt became Music Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. At the beginning of the season 1998/99 he succeeded Kurt Masur as Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester, a post which he maintained until the end of the season 2004/2005. Having been appointed Honorary Conductor of this orchestra, he will return to Leipzig regularly in the future and continue to perform with the world's most pre-eminent orchestras. In March 2006, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which he has been conducting since 1982, also awarded him the title of Honorary Conductor.
His extensive discography includes over 130 works with the Dresden Staatskapelle, amongst them all symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert. With the Danish Radio Symphony he recorded the complete works of Carl Nielsen. 1987 he and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra signed up an exclusive contract with DECCA and numerous of their recordings received major awards; his complete cycles of the symphonies of Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen enjoy reference standard. Since 1995 Herbert Blomstedt has been recording for DECCA in collaboration with the Gewandhausorchester. Releases include Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, Hindemith's "Sinfonia serena" and "Die Harmonie der Welt" as well as piano concertos of Mendelssohn. His latest recordings are Sandström’s "High Mass" for Deutsche Grammophon, a CD featuring works by Richard Strauss for DECCA and Mendelssohn's "Elijah" for RCA Red Seal.
Herbert Blomstedt received several Honorary Doctorates and is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy. In autumn 2003 he was awarded the "Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz" by the German Federal President Johannes Rau.