The world-famous Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa has died at the age of 88. This is reported unanimously by Japanese media, citing a statement from its management. Accordingly, Ozawa died of heart failure in his home in the capital Tokyo on February 6, 2024. The gifted musician had withdrawn from the public for several years and repeatedly struggled with health problems. In 2010, after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer, he initially took a break and only returned to the desk in 2013.
Ozawa began his world career in 1961 as assistant conductor to the famous Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) at the New York Philharmonic. From 1973 to 2002 he later led the Boston Symphony Orchestra full-time. After parallel guest positions in San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto, he increasingly moved to Europe over the course of his career, where he worked at the Scala in Milan and at the Ochestre National de France in Paris, among others. In October 2002, the son of a dentist became music director of the Vienna State Opera, where he had often worked as a guest conductor. He held this position until he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.
The honorary member of the Berlin Philharmonic received numerous awards in his long career, including an Emmy Award in 1976 for the TV series "Evening at Symphony" and a Grammy in 1981 for "Best Solo Instrument Performance with Orchestra". In 1994 he won another Emmy for his program "Antonín Dvořák" in Prague. Ozawa was married for the second time to the Russian-Japanese actress Miki Irie (79) and also leaves behind his daughter Seira (52) and his son Yukiyoshi (49), who also pursued an artistic career as a musician and actor.