Music Director Laureate
Seiji Ozawa is Music Director of the Vienna State Opera since the 2002/2003 season and is an annual and favored guest of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Prior to his Vienna State Opera appointment he served as Music Director of the Boston Symphony for 29 seasons (1973-2002), the longest serving music director in the orchestra's history. Mo. Ozawa is also Artistic Director and Founder of the Saito Kinen Festival and Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO), the pre-eminent music and opera festival of Japan and in June 2003 it was announced that he would be Music Director of a new festival of opera, symphony concerts and chamber music called "Tokyo no Mori" which had its first annual season in February 2005 in Tokyo. The 4th season opera in April 2008 was Eugene Onegin. In 2000 he founded the Ozawa Ongaku-Juku in Japan, an academy for aspiring young orchestral musicians where they play with pre-eminent professional players in symphonic concerts and fully staged opera productions with international level casting. The Ongaku-Juku opera for July 2009 will be Hansel and Gretel.
In 2004, Maestro Ozawa founded the International Music Academy - Switzerland dedicated to training young musicians in chamber music and offering them performance opportunities in orchestras and as soloists. Its first season was at the end of June and beginning of July 2005 and its 6th season will be June 25-30, 2009. Since founding the Saito Kinen Orchestra in 1984, and its subsequent evolution into the Saito Kinen Festival in 1991, Mo. Ozawa has devoted himself increasingly to the growth and development of the Saito Kinen orchestra in Japan. With extensive recording projects, annual and world-wide tours, and especially since the inception of the Saito Kinen Festival in the Japan "Alps' city of Matsumoto, he has built a world-class and world-renowned orchestra, dedicated in spirit, name and accomplishment to the memory of his teacher at Tokyo's Toho School of Music, Hideo Saito, a revered figure in the cultivation of Western music and musical technique in Japan. The Saito Kinen Festival was from August 26-September 9, 2008 featuring concerts as well as staged performances of Cunning Little Vixen, with Maestro Ozawa as conductor.
During 2007/2008, Maestro Ozawa's appearances included: Far East tour of Le Nozze di Figaro with Vienna State Opera [Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Keohsiung and Singapore]; Orchestre National de France concerts in Paris and at Besançon, Pique Dame with the Vienna State Opera; followed by Tannhäuser with the Opera National de Paris; Berlin Philharmonic European tour [Berlin, Paris, Lucerne and Vienna]; Zauberflöte für Kinder in Vienna; Elektra with Teatro Comunale di Firenze; Berlin Philharmonic concerts for the Salzburg Easter Festival; Japan performances with Tokyo Opera No Mori [Eugene Onegin]; Ongaku-Juku performances of Die Fledermaus followed by Saito Kinen concerts and staged performances of Cunning Little Vixen. Maestro Ozawa will be at Vienna State Opera in the 2008/2009 season with Pique Dame in September and October, followed by a tour in Japan with the Vienna State Opera in a production of Fidelio. November and December marks his return to the Metropolitan Opera, conducting Queen of Spades, as well as appearing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in late November. January 2009 he performs with the New Japan Philharmonic in Japan, returning to Europe for a performance with Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Salzburg's Mozartwoche on January 24, followed by concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He appears with Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris at the Bastille on February 7, returning to Vienna for Zauberflöte für Kinder on February 20 followed by Vienna State Opera's Eugene Onegin in March. During April he will be in Japan for performances with the New Japan Philharmonic, Ongaku Juku and the Mito Chamber Orchestra. Returning to Paris in May, he conducts the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris with Renee Fleming on May 7; then tours with the Berlin Philharmonic also in May. Maestro Ozawa returns to Vienna State Opera for Eugene Onegin in late May/early June and following this period he has concerts in June with the Vienna Philharmonic. He will conduct and hold classes at his Swiss Academy June 25-30, returning to Japan for Ongaku Juku performances of Hansel and Gretel at the end of July followed by the War Requiem and concerts during the Saito Kinen Festival between August 26 and September 9, 2009.
Born in 1935 in Shenyang, China, Seiji Ozawa studied music from an early age and later graduated with first prizes in both composition and conducting from Tokyo's Toho School of Music. In 1959 he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors in Besançon, France, where he came to the attention of Charles Munch, then the Boston Symphony music director, who invited him to Tanglewood, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize as outstanding student conductor in 1960. While working with Herbert von Karajan in West Berlin, Mr. Ozawa came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season. He made his first professional concert appearance in North America in January 1962, with the San Francisco Symphony. He was music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony (1964-69), music director of the Toronto Symphony (1965-1969) and music director of the San Francisco Symphony (1970-1976). He first conducted the Boston Symphony in 1964 at Tanglewood and made his first winter subscription appearance with them in 1968. He was named Artistic Director of Tanglewood in 1970, Music Director of the Boston Symphony in 1973, leaving a legacy of brilliant achievement evidenced through touring, award-winning recordings (more than 140 works of more than 50 composers on 10 labels), television productions (winning 2 Emmy awards), and commissioned works.
Through his many recordings, television appearances, and worldwide touring, Mo. Ozawa is an internationally recognized celebrity. In recent years, the many honors and achievements bestowed upon Mr. Ozawa have underscored his esteemed standing in the international music scene. French President Jacques Chirac named him (1999) Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, the Sorbonne (2004) awarded him Doctorate Honoris Causa and he has been honored as "Musician of the Year" by Musical America. February 1998 saw him fulfilling a longtime ambition of joining musicians around the globe: he led the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, conducting the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the SKO and six choruses located on five different continents - Japan, Australia, China, Germany, South Africa, and the United States - all linked by satellite. He received Japan's first-ever Inouye Award (1994), named after Japan's pre-eminent novelist, recognizing lifetime achievement in the arts. 1994 also saw the inauguration of the new and acclaimed Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. Mo. Ozawa also has been awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts, Wheaton College, and the New England Conservatory of Music.