Tour with Herbert Blomstedt
21st-29th May 2023
It is with great anticipation that the COE is looking forward to its tour with Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt, with whom they last performed in December 2012 with pianist Emanuel Ax. Our concerts this month in Cologne (24th May), Dortmund (25th) and Luxemburg (26th) feature Berwald’s Symphony No. 4 and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3. On 28th May in Dresden, the first half of the programme changes, and we will be joined by star violinist Maria Dueñas in performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.
When previously asked about his experience with the COE, Herbert Blomstedt had said: “The COE is like a good CEO: it is an undisputed leader but uses its power with discretion and always in the service of music. It has been my privilege over the years to join the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for many unforgettable concerts. It is a uniquely gifted ensemble, and since they play together only in their scarce free time they are super dedicated and prepared to bring any sacrifice for the sake of their art. The result is stunning and brings their audiences rare musical experiences. I thank God for them.”
Although still in her early twenties, Spanish violinist Maria Dueñas has already received an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, has been named one of the BBC New Generation Artists 2021-2023 and has been awarded the Princesa de Girona Art and Culture 2023 Prize. The jury of the Girona Prize said “through her great talent, her discipline and her work capacity, she represents an exceptional model for today’s young musicians.” Aside from performing with world-class orchestras and conductors, Maria also composes and her solo piano piece, Farewell, was awarded a prize in the 2016 “Von fremden Ländern und Menschen” Competition for Young Composers.
Herbert Blomstedt was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Adolf Blomstedt (1898–1981) and his wife Alida Armintha Thorson (1899–1957). Two years after his birth, his Swedish parents moved the family back to their country of origin. He studied at the Stockholm Royal College of Music and the University of Uppsala, followed by studies of contemporary music at Darmstadt in 1949, Baroque music with Paul Sacher at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and further conducting studies with Igor Markevitch, Jean Morel at the Juilliard School, and Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. Blomstedt also lived in Finland during his youth.
He won the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize in 1953 and the Salzburg Conducting Competition in 1955.
Blomstedt is most noted for his performances of German and Austrian composers, such as Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss and Paul Hindemith, and also as a champion of Scandinavian composers, such as Edvard Grieg, Franz Berwald, Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen.
A devout Seventh-day Adventist, Blomstedt does not rehearse on Friday nights or Saturdays, the Sabbath in Seventh-day Adventism. He does, however, conduct concerts, since he considers actual performances to be an expression of his religious devotion rather than work.
He has been Music Director or Principal Conductor of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra (1954–1962), Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (1962–1968), Danish Radio Symphony (1967–1977) and Swedish Radio Symphony (1977–1982). From 1975 to 1985, he served as chief conductor of the Dresdner Staatskapelle, in the process making many well-regarded recordings, including works of Richard Strauss and the complete Beethoven and Schubert symphonies, and leading the orchestra on international tours.
Blomstedt was music director of the San Francisco Symphony from 1985 to 1995. He led the orchestra on regular tours of Europe and Asia, and made numerous prize-winning recordings for London/Decca, winning two Grammy Awards, a Gramophone Award and a Grand Prix du Disque, as well as awards from Belgium, Germany and Japan. After leaving San Francisco full-time, Blomstedt held principal conductorships with the North German Radio Symphony (1996–1998) and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1998–2005).
Blomstedt is currently Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and Honorary Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Staatskapelle Dresden.
Spanish violinist María Dueñas beguiles audiences with the breathtaking array of colours she draws from her instrument. Her technical prowess, artistic maturity and bold interpretations have inspired rave reviews, captivated competition juries, and secured invitations to appear with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.
María Dueñas has been studying with world-renowned Professor Boris Kuschnir at the Music and Arts University of Vienna for several years.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has hailed the “freedom and joyous individuality” of her playing, while The Strad described her rising-star status as “seemingly unstoppable” after she won a whole series of international violin competitions (the 2021 Grand Prix at the Viktor Tretyakov International Violin Competition, the Getting to Carnegie Hall Competition and the 2018 Vladimir Spivakov International Violin Competition, among others). Not least among this succession of triumphs was her livestreamed run to victory at the 2021 Menuhin Violin Competition, at which she won not only the first prize and audience prize, but also a global online following and the loan of a golden-period Stradivari from Jonathan Moulds’ private collection. The Rheingau Music Festival awarded her the career advancement prize, and the BBC Radio 3 named her “New Generation Artist 2021-23.”
On exclusive contract with the legendary Deutsche Grammophon since September 2022, Dueñas will release her debut album recorded live with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck at the Golden Hall in Musikverein, featuring Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and the violinist´s own cadenzas.
As dedicatee of Gabriela Ortiz´ violin Concerto “Altar de Cuerda” (2022), Dueñas caused international sensation upon its premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall with Gustavo Dudamel and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, which would mark a fruitful artistic collaboration followed by electrifying musical moments at the 100th Hollywood Bowl Anniversary. Praised by The New York Times as “wholy captivating,” the concerto caused enthusiastic admiration after sold-out premieres at Carnegie Hall, Boston and the Cervantino Festival in Mexico.
A multi-faceted musician, Dueñas became fond of composing after she started writing cadenzas for Mozart´s violin concertos. A solo piano piece, Farewell, was awarded a prize in the 2016 “Von fremden Ländern und Menschen” Competition for Young Composers. Recorded by the pianist Evgeny Sinaiski, it was transformed into a music video filmed during the pandemic.
A dedicated chamber musician, María has performed with baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Itamar Golan, among other artists. She has also premiered several works such as Julian Gargiulo´s Sonata and solo caprices dedicated to her by the late Catalan composer Jordi Cervelló.
Born in Granada in 2002, María Dueñas moved to Dresden in 2014 after winning a scholarship to study abroad awarded by Juventudes Musicales Madrid and moved to Dresden to study at the Carl Maria von Weber College of Music.
As a stipendiary of the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben, María Dueñas plays the Nicolò Gagliano violin of 17?4 and the Stradivarius “Camposelice” (1710), on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.