Obituary: Swedish Conductor Arnold Östman Dies at 83

By Francisco Salazar

Swedish conductor Arnold Östman died on August 15, 2023, at the age of 83.

The conductor was born on Dec. 24, 1939 in Malmö, Sweden, and studied art history and musicology in Lund, Paris, and Stockholm.

Throughout his studies Östman concentrated on the piano and the harpsichord, being largely self-taught. He was also a researcher and focused on the subject of early opera, bringing to light a number of theretofore unknown or little-known baroque operas.

Östman became a teacher at the Operahögskolan i Stockholm in 1969 and was theatre and museum director at the Drottningholms Teatermuseum starting in 1979.

Östman became the artistic director and conductor of the Vadstena Academy in 1971 and stayed with the organization until 1981, while also serving as conductor and artistic director of the NorrlandsOperan in Umeå from 1974 until 1978. He became the artistic director of the Drottningholm Palace Theatre in 1980 and remained in that role until 1992. While working as the Artistic Director he gained international recognition, especially for his work on Mozart operas with period instruments.

Östman went on to work at many of the most important opera houses in the world including the Wiener Staatsoper, Royal Opera House, Wexford Festival Opera, Opéra de Paris, and Teatro Regio di Parma, among others. He also worked with many of the great orchestras in the world.

Östman left an important discography that includes Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” “Così fan tutte,” “Le Nozze di Figaro,” and ” Die Zauberflöte,” as well as Handel’s “Agrippina” and Gluck’s “Alceste.” The recordings were also important as they used period instruments.