Leif Segerstam is one of the most versatile and interesting musical talents from the Nordic countries. He studied violin, piano, composition and conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and then continued with a post-graduate course at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He is chief conductor emeritus of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, after a successful period as its chief conductor (1995–2007). In addition he holds honorary titles with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany. He has been chief conductor of the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra as well as music director and chief conductor of the Royal Swedish Opera; he is chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and Malmö Opera.
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 Colón, the Salzburg Festival and the Opera Houses of Cologne, Geneva, Hamburg and Munich. He is a frequent conductor at the Savonlinna Festival. In 1997 he made his debuts in North America with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The numerous recordings made by Leif Segerstam are recognized by critics and public alike as outstanding amongst modern interpretations. He has also shown exceptional creativity as a composer throughout his musical career. For many years a professor of conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Leif Segerstam was awarded the annual Finnish State Prize for Music in 2004, and the following year received the highly esteemed Sibelius Medal.