Leif Segerstam (born in 1944), conductor, composer, violinist and pianist, is one of the most versatile musical talents in the Nordic countries. He studied at the Sibelius Academy in 1952-1963 and completed diplomas in violin and conducting. After completing degree in conducting at Juilliard Music Academy in New York in 1965, Segerstam spent three years conducting the Finnish National Opera.
Leif Segerstam continued his career in Stockholm’s Royal Opera in 1968, first as a conductor and after a couple of years as the artistic director. In the beginning of the 1970’s he also worked with the German Opera in Berlin and with the Finnish National Opera. He was guest conductor in the Metropolitan, Covent Garden and La Scala as well as in Munich’s, Hamburg’s and Cologne’s Opera and at the Salzburg Festival. In the 1980’s it was time for Vienna State Opera and Copenhagen’s Royal Opera. At the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland Segerstam has conducted for years, and in Stockholm’s Royal Opera he worked as the chief conductor from 1995 to 2000. Acknowledged work among opera continues as the Malmö Opera’s chief conductor and from 2015 as the honorary conductor.
Segerstam appears regularly as guest conductor with symphony orchestras around the world. In 1975-1982 he was the chief conductor of the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra, in 1977-1987 the chief conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and in 1983-1989 Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatsharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, later orchestra’s lifetime “Ehren Gastdirigent”. 1988-1995 Segerstam worked as chief conductor of Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and is now orchestra’s honorary conductor. He was the 11th chief conductor of Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra during 1995-2007, and continues collaboration as orchestra’s Emeritus Chief Conductor. From 2012 on Segerstam has worked as the chief conductor of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.
The numerous recordings by Leif Segerstam with different orchestras have received wide international reputation. His large-scale composing production includes over 280 symphonies, violin concertos, piano concertos and various other instrumental concertos and lot of chamber music and vocal music.
From autumn 1997 to spring 2013 Leif Segerstam was Acting Professor of Conducting at the Sibelius Academy. The Nordic Music Committee awarded Segerstam the 1999 Nordic Council Music Prize for his work as a tireless champion of Scandinavian music. In spring 2003 Segerstam received Svenska Kulturfonden’s prize for his meritorious action in the field of music. In 2004 Leif Segerstam was awarded the annual State Prize for Music in Finland and in 2005 the highly esteemed Sibelius Medal. In 2014 the President of Finland granted Segerstam the title of Professor.