Sakari Oramo was born in Helsinki, Finland, on October 26, 1965. He trained as a violinist, and from his teens played with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra for seven years. He also performed as a member of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, eventually becoming concertmaster.
From 1989-1992, he studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy with Jorma Panula. He made his conducting debut with the FRSO in a performance of the Brahms First Symphony in 1993, and enjoyed such success that he was appointed the orchestra's associate principal conductor that same year. Among his earliest recordings with the orchestra was a 1995 Ondine disc of works by Finnish composer Uuno Klami.
For the 1998-1999 season Oramo served as principal conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, becoming music director the following season. In 2003 he was elevated to principal conductor of the FRSO.
The following year Oramo co-founded the Kokkola Opera, serving the new company as principal conductor. In 2005 Oramo recorded the Mahler Fifth Symphony with the CBSO, an effort that drew much critical acclaim. Oramo stepped down from his Birmingham post in 2008, but served a further season as the orchestra's principal guest conductor. 2008 was also the year he assumed the post of chief conductor and artistic advisor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, initially signing a three-year contract, then an extension lasting through the 2014-2015 season. Among Oramo's more acclaimed recordings with the Royal Stockholm PO is the Nobel Prize Concert 2010, issued in spring 2011 on an Accentus DVD, featuring works by Beethoven, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky.