TOKYO (AP) —Seiji Ozawa, the Japanese conductor who amazed audiences with the lithe physicality of his performances throughout three a long time on the helm of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has died, his administration workplace mentioned Friday. He was 88.
The internationally acclaimed maestro, together with his trademark mop of salt-and-pepper hair, led the BSO from 1973 to 2002, longer than every other conductor within the orchestra’s historical past. From 2002 to 2010, he was the music director of the Vienna State Opera.
He died of coronary heart failure Tuesday at his residence in Tokyo, in keeping with his workplace, Veroza Japan.
He remained energetic in his later years, notably in his place of origin. He was the inventive director and founding father of the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, a music and opera competition in Japan. He and the Saito Kinen Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1984, received the Grammy for finest opera recording in 2016 for Ravel’s “L’Enfant et Les Sortileges” (“The Child and the Spells”).
In 2022, he performed his Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival for the primary time in three years to mark its thirtieth anniversary. That turned out to be his final public efficiency.
Ozawa exerted huge affect over the BSO throughout his tenure. He appointed 74 of its 104 musicians and his superstar attracted well-known performers together with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. He additionally helped the symphony turn into the biggest-budget orchestra on the planet, with an endowment that grew from lower than $10 million within the early Nineteen Seventies to greater than $200 million in 2002.
When Ozawa performed the Boston orchestra in 2006 — 4 years after he had left — he acquired a hero’s welcome with a virtually six-minute ovation.
Ozawa was born Sept. 1, 1935, to Japanese dad and mom in Manchuria, China, whereas it was underneath Japanese occupation.
After his household returned to Japan in 1944, he studied music underneath Hideo Saito, a cellist and conductor credited with popularizing Western music in Japan. Ozawa revered him and fashioned the Saito Kinen (Saito Memorial) Orchestra in 1984 and eight years later based the Saito Kinen Festival — renamed the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival in 2015.
Ozawa first arrived within the United States in 1960 and was shortly hailed by critics as an excellent younger expertise. He attended the Tanglewood Music Center and was seen by Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season. After his New York debut with the Philharmonic at age 25, The New York Times mentioned “the music came brilliantly alive under his direction.”
He directed numerous ensembles together with the San Francisco Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra earlier than starting his tenure in Boston in 1970.
At the time there have been few nonwhite musicians on the worldwide scene. Ozawa embraced the problem and it turned his lifelong ardour to assist Japanese performers display they may very well be first-class musicians. In his 1967 guide “The Great Conductors,” critic Harold C. Schonberg famous the altering ranks of youthful conductors, writing that Ozawa and Indian-born Zubin Mehta had been the primary Asian conductors “to impress one as altogether major talents.”
Ozawa had appreciable star high quality and crossover enchantment in Boston, the place he was a well known fan of the Red Sox and Patriots sports activities groups. In 2002, Catherine Peterson, government director of Arts Boston, a nonprofit group that markets Boston’s arts, informed The Associated Press that “for most people in this community, Seiji personifies the Boston Symphony.”
Ozawa is basically credited with elevating the Tanglewood Music Center, a music academy in Lenox, Massachusetts, to worldwide prominence. In 1994, a 1,200-seat, $12 million music corridor on the middle was named for him.
His work at Tanglewood was not with out controversy. In 1996, as music director of the orchestra and its final authority, he determined to maneuver the revered academy in new instructions. Ozawa ousted Leon Fleisher, the longtime director of Tanglewood, and several other distinguished academics give up in protest.
Despite glowing evaluations for his performances in Europe and Japan, American critics had been more and more dissatisfied within the later years of his tenure with the BSO. In 2002, Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times wrote that Ozawa had turn into, after a daring begin, “an embodiment of the entrenched music director who has lost touch.”
Many of the orchestra’s musicians agreed and even circulated an anti-Ozawa publication claiming he had worn out his welcome in Boston.
Ozawa received two Emmy awards for TV work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra — the primary in 1976 for the BSO’s PBS sequence “Evening at Symphony” and the second in 1994, for Individual Achievement in Cultural Programming, for “Dvorak in Prague: A Celebration.”
Ozawa held honorary doctorates of music from the University of Massachusetts, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. He was one in all 5 honorees on the annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 for contributing to American tradition via the humanities.
In later years, Ozawa’s well being deteriorated. He was handled for most cancers of the esophagus in 2010, and in 2015 and 2016 he canceled performances for numerous well being issues.
Ozawa’s administration workplace mentioned his funeral was attended solely by shut kinfolk as his household wished to have a quiet farewell.
He cancelled some appearances in 2015-16 for well being causes, together with what would have been his first return to the Tanglewood music competition — the summer season residence of the Boston symphony — in a decade.