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.
As guest conductor, Maestro Blomstedt has performed with orchestras such as the Berlin and Munich Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Cleveland Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Israel Philharmonic as well as NHK Symphony, of which he is Honorary Conductor.
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 repeatedly appeared to critical acclaim at major European concert venues and festivals including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Munich and Lucerne. From 1996 to 1998, Maestro Blomstedt was Music Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg. With the season 1998/99 he succeeded Kurt Masur as Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, a post which he maintained until the end of the season 2004/2005. Having been appointed Honorary Conductor of this orchestra, he returns to Leipzig regularly. In 2006, he was awarded the title of Honorary Conductor by three more orchestras: the Danish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras as well as the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which he has been conducting since 1982. In addition, he continues guest conducting the world's most pre-eminent orchestras.
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. In 1987 he and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra signed 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. His collaboration with the Gewandhausorchester has been documented by several labels. For Decca, he recorded Brahms' Symphony No. 4, Bruckner's Symphony No. 9, Hindemith's "Sinfonia serena" and "Die Harmonie der Welt", piano concertos of Mendelssohn and works by Richard Strauss. Releases also include Sandström's "High Mass" for Deutsche Grammophon and Mendelssohn's "Elijah" for RCA Red Seal. German label querstand released a box of live concert recordings covering the Leipzig period from 1998 to 2005, Bruckner's Symphony No 8 (a recording of Herbert Blomstedt's farewell concerts with the Gewandhausorchester) and, most recently, Bruckner's Symphony No 7.
Herbert Blomstedt received several Honorary Doctorates and is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy. In fall 2003 he was awarded the "Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz" by the German Federal President Johannes Rau. He celebrated his 80th birthday on July 11, 2007.