Seiji Ozawa death: Japanese conductor who led Boston Symphony Orchestra dies aged 88

Seiji Ozawa, famed Japanese conductor, has died at 88
Seiji Ozawa death: Acclaimed Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor passes away aged 88Seiji Ozawa death: Acclaimed Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor passes away aged 88
Seiji Ozawa death: Acclaimed Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor passes away aged 88

Seiji Ozawa, the world-renowned Japanese maestro who led the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) for almost 30 years, died of heart failure at his Tokyo home on Tuesday (February 6). He was 88.

The groundbreaking conductor directed the American orchestra from 1973 to 2002, longer than any other conductor in the orchestra’s 128-year history. He returned to conduct the orchestra in 2006 and received a hero’s welcome with a nearly six-minute ovation.

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Until 2010, Ozawa acted as music director of the Vienna State Opera.

Ozawa's achievements include winning two Emmys for his televised conducting with BSO and a Grammy for best opera recording in 2016 for Ravel’s L’Enfant et Les Sortileges (The Child and the Spells) with the Saito Kinen Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1984.

He was also the artistic director and founder of both the Saito Kinen Festival and Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival - two music and opera festivals in Japan. Ozawa's last public performance was in 2022 when he conducted his Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Tributes have since poured from notable figures in the industry and on behalf of orchestras across the world. Andris Nelsons, Ozawa's successor at BSO, said in a statement: "Seiji Ozawa was one of the warmest, kindest, and most generous people I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

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"He was a great friend, a brilliant role model, and an exemplary musician and leader," he added. "He has been an inspiration to me all my life and I will miss him dearly."

The Vienna Philharmonic paid tribute to Ozawa and labelled him 'one of the great conductors of our time'. The statement reads: "The Vienna Philharmonic mourns the loss of our honorary member Seiji Ozawa, one of the great conductors of our time.

"We look back with gratitude and love on many concerts and opera performances together, especially on our tours through Japan." Ozawa's funeral was attended only by close relatives as his family wished to have a quiet farewell, his management office, Veroza Japan, confirmed.

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