A tribute to Seiji Ozawa: the famous conductor and music maestro

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawaknown for its colorful style and cultural fusion, died peacefully aged 88 on Tuesday 6th February.

The musical maestro, whose career spanned decades, left an indelible mark on the world of Western classical music. From Chicago to Boston and Vienna, Ozawa has mesmerized audiences with his East Asian sensibility, infusing his performances with captivating energy.

The news of Ozawa’s death was shared by his management team on their official Facebook page.

“Conductor Seiji Ozawa passed away peacefully at his home on February 6 at the age of 88.”

The cause of his death was attributed to heart failure, and his funeral was held according to his wishes, and his close relatives were also present.

Born in 1935 in Manchuria, then a Japanese colony in China, Ozawa initially took piano lessons during his early years. But fate intervened when he suffered a rugby injury, breaking two fingers and changing the course of his musical journey. With an unwavering passion for the art, Ozawa turned to conducting, embarking on a journey that would bring him face to face with some of classical music’s greatest greats.

In 1959, Ozawa ventured abroad and found himself in the presence of the esteemed composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. The young conductor’s talent caught Bernstein’s attention, leading to a key role as his assistant with the New York Philharmonic during the 1961-62 season. That meeting marked the beginning of Ozawa’s remarkable career, which saw him lead orchestras in Chicago, Toronto and San Francisco.

Of all his accomplishments, Ozawa’s 29-year tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is a testament to his unparalleled dedication. His influence was so profound that a concert hall at the group’s summer home in western Massachusetts was named in his honor. Ozawa left the BSO in 2002 to take up the role of chief conductor at the Vienna State Opera, a position he held until 2010. The Vienna Philharmonic, with whom Ozawa first collaborated at the 1966 Salzburg Festival, expressed their admiration for his loving interaction with his colleagues and his charisma.


Andris Nelsons, the current conductor of the BSO, paid tribute to Ozawa, describing him as a great friend, a brilliant role model and an exemplary musician and conductor. Nelsons expressed his deep sense of loss and the profound impact Ozawa had on his musical journey.

Marin Alsop, one of the few celebrated female conductors, acknowledged Ozawa as a great mentor during her time at Tanglewood. Chad Smith, the BSO’s chief executive officer, described Ozawa as a force of nature on and off the stage, citing his balletic grace on the podium and remarkable memory, Thailand’s PBS World reported.

The news of Ozawa’s death left a void in the hearts of musicians and fans alike. Opera soprano Christine Goerke, deeply moved by the opportunity to collaborate with the maestro, expressed her gratitude and sadness.

“Safe home, maestro, and thank you.”

Thai News World News

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