Seiji Ozawa, probably the most Western Japanese conductor, dies at 88 | Culture | EUROtoday

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Conductor Seiji Ozawa was petrified when a German journalist requested him the next query: “How can you, a Japanese, understand Beethoven, Mozart or Brahms?” In 1979, he confessed to The New York Times that it had taken him years to seek out a solution, since he had by no means seen himself as an oriental conducting Western music. “Music is as international as a sunset. It can be seen from Paris or Tokyo. But there will always be people who enjoy or appreciate it more. Everyone can enjoy Mozart. But not all minds are willing to pay attention to it.”

This musician who was as Japanese as he was Western, who was born in what’s now Shenyang, in Manchuria, in the course of the Japanese occupation, died final Tuesday, February 6, at his residence in Tokyo, on the age of 88, because of cardiac arrest. The information of his dying was not broadcast till yesterday Friday by the Japanese public broadcasting firm NHK. In truth, Ozawa had been residing in retirement since 2010 resulting from remedy for esophageal most cancers, which he ultimately overcame. But solely he was capable of sporadically return to the rostrum, after experiencing different well being issues. His final look on stage befell on November 22, 2022, conducting the overture of Egmontby Beethoven, in a broadcast devoted to a Japanese astronaut on the International Space Station.

These minimal and excited gestures of the legendary Japanese maestro distinction with the sleek and barely rhythmic actions that captivated live performance halls within the Nineteen Seventies. An picture that fascinated even Steven Spielberg, throughout a PBS broadcast of his program Evening at Symphony: “A fabulous creature who stood on the podium, an agile athlete and dancer with thick black hair and beads on his white turtleneck,” writes the movie director, in Seiji. An intimate portrait of Seiji Ozawa, a tribute e-book printed in 1998 to have a good time his twenty fifth anniversary as principal of the Boston Symphony. A monograph stuffed with anecdotes from pals, household and colleagues, which present, with plentiful images, the stressed, honest and rigorous musician. But additionally the standard and humorous man who at all times wore the normal yukata or cotton gown after his concert events.

The most up-to-date portrait of Ozawa might be learn in Music, solely music (Tusquets), by Haruki Murakami. The Japanese novelist created this e-book based mostly on six conversations, between November 2010 and July 2011, which observe the chronological define of his profession as an orchestra conductor. From his beginnings as the primary disciple of Hideo Saito, on the Tohogakuen Music School, in Tokyo, to his intermittent appearances on the head of the Saito Kinen Orchestra, which he based in 1984, as a tribute to his trainer, throughout the Matsumoto Festival, now renamed together with his personal title. Some conversations dotted with reflections from a musician who needed to step away from conducting and located time to hearken to his recordings: “It was like looking in the mirror,” he admits within the e-book.

But Ozawa's profession as a conductor bought off to a powerful begin in 1959, together with his victory within the Besançon conducting competitors in France. He was adopted by the Koussevitzky Prize, at Tanglewood, and work as assistant to Herbert von Karajan, in 1961, and, later, 4 years to Leonard Bernstein, on the New York Philharmonic. His first orchestral tenure can be the Toronto Symphony, from 1965 to 1969, the place he started his discography with a superb Turangalila Symphony, by Messiaen. And, after a quick interval linked to the San Francisco Symphony, in 1973 he grew to become principal of the Boston Symphony, the place he remained till 2002. That yr he carried out the favored New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic and He grew to become the proprietor of his State Opera till his pressured retirement on the finish of 2009.

He at all times tried to conduct from reminiscence probably the most sophisticated scores inside his immense repertoire, centered on composers of the twentieth century, from Schönberg, Stravinsky and Bartók to Messiaen and his compatriot Tōru Takemitsu. And his interpretations have typically been criticized for missing expressive drive, though he at all times stood out for combining that restraint with an beautiful richness of coloration and precision. His fascination with opera marked the ultimate stage of his profession, though his reference to opera started, within the sixties, on the Salzburg Festival. He has necessary recordings by Puccini and Tchaikovsky. And, amongst his many productions, it’s price highlighting absolutely the premiere of the opera San Francisco de Asís, by Messiaen, in 1983.

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