Leif Segerstam, born in 1944, is one of the most versatile and interesting musical talents from the Nordic countries. From 1953 - 1963 he studied violin, piano, composition and conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and continued with a post-graduate course at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.
He began his conducting career in the opera houses of Helsinki, Stockholm and Berlin with guest appearances which have included the Metropolitan New York, La Scala, Covent Garden, Teatro Colon, the Salzburg Festival and in Cologne, Geneva, Hamburg and Munich. He is a frequent conductor at the Savolinna Festival. Last season he conducted Salome (“Strauss’s exotic score, whilst laden with full blooded crescendos, also contains moments of purity and subtlety, which Leif Segerstam expressed without sacrificing the quest for dramatic intensity. Fortissimos were terrifying, and Jochanaan’s prophetic passages were moments of hypnotic beauty.” Andrew Gosling - Classical Source, 7th June 2010) and Lohengrin at the Wiener Staatsoper and Britten’s Peter Grimes at Vlaamse Oper. This season he conducts Der Rosenkavalier at the Bayerische Staatsoper and La Bohème in Helsinki.
The many recordings of Leif Segerstam are recognised by critics and public alike as outstanding amongst modern interpretations. They include the complete symphonies of Mahler, Sibelius and Nielsen in addition to several works by contemporary composers with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Scriabin and Schnittke with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Brahms with the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz plus Reger and Alan Pettersson with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. This season, the composer’s anniversary year, he conducts Pettersson’s 7th symphony with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and opened Turku’s year as European City of Culture in January 2011 with the Turku Philharmonic in a performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. In 1997 he made débuts in North America with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony and Chicago Symphony orchestras. The 2000/2001 season saw his first appearance with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra which led to an immediate re-invitation and a European Tour with the orchestra.
Leif Segerstam has shown exceptional creativity as a composer throughout his musical career and currently has 255 symphonies, 29 string quartets, 11 violin and 4 piano concerti alongside chamber and vocal music.
Leif Segerstam was appointed Professor of Conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 1997. He was the winner of the 1999 Nordic Council Music Prize for his work “as a tireless champion of Scandinavian music.” In 2004 Leif Segerstam was awarded the annual State Prize for Music in Finland and in 2005 the highly esteemed Sibelius Medal.