Nézet-Séguin was born in Montreal to two specialists in education, Serge P. Séguin, Ph.D., a university professor, and Claudine Nézet, M.A., a university lecturer and coordinator. He began to study piano at age five, with Jeanne-d'Arc Lebrun-Lussier and decided to become an orchestra conductor at age ten.
Nézet-Séguin studied successively at St-Isaac-Jogues Primary School, at Mont-St-Louis Secondary School and at Bois-de-Boulogne College. In the meantime, he was admitted to Anisia Campos' piano class, at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec where he earned five first prizes in piano and in four related musical subjects. He also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and did many master classes with renowned conductors. At nineteen, he met and was invited to follow Carlo Maria Giulini in rehearsals and concerts for more than a year. He became the musical director of the Chœur polyphonique de Montréal in 1994 and obtained the same post at Choeur de Laval in 1995. In 1995, he founded his own professional orchestral and vocal ensemble, La Chapelle de Montréal, with whom he performed 2 to 4 concerts a year until 2002. He considers Charles Dutoit as his first inspiration as a child and Carlo Maria Giulini as his master. From 1998 to 2002, Nézet-Séguin was chorus master, assistant conductor and music adviser of the Opéra de Montréal.
Nézet-Séguin became music director of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montréal) in 2000, and principal guest conductor of the Victoria Symphony (British Columbia, Canada) in 2003. His most recent contract with the Orchestre Métropolitain, through 2010, has since been extended through 2015. He has conducted commercial recordings of symphonies of Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler with the Orchestre Métropolitain.
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
In 2005, Nézet-Séguin guest-conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (RPhO) for the first time, and returned in 2006. In December 2006, the RPhO announced the appointment of Nézet-Séguin as their 11th Principal Conductor, by a unanimous vote, starting with the 2008–09 concert season, with an initial contract of 4 years. In April 2010, the RPhO announced the extension of his contract through 2015. With the RPhO, Nézet-Séguin has recorded commercially for Virgin Classics and for EMI.
In December 2008, Nézet-Séguin made his first appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra, at the invitation of Charles Dutoit. He returned for a second guest-conducting engagement in December 2009. In June 2010, he was named the eighth Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, starting with the 2012–13 season. He served as Music Director Designate from 2010 to 2012. His initial contract as music director is for 5 seasons, with 7 weeks of scheduled concerts in the 2012–13 season, 15 weeks in the next 2 seasons, and 16 weeks in the subsequent 2 seasons of his Philadelphia contract.