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 has its first annual season in February 2005 in Tokyo. In 2000 he founded the Ozawa Ongaku Juku in Japan, an academy for aspiring young orchestral musicians in which they play side-by-side with pre-eminent professional players in both symphonic concerts and fully staged opera productions with international level casting. Its next performances (September 2005) will be on tour in China and Japan.
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 will be end of June/beginning of July 2005 starting with string quartets featuring day time classes with teachers, including Robert Mann (ex-first violin of Juilliard Quartet) and Sadao Harada (ex-cellist of Tokyo String Quartet) with evening sessions by Maestro Ozawa. The final concert will be for an invited audience.
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 a première 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 2004/2005 season starts in September with the Saito Kinen Festival (Matsumoto, Japan) with Wozzeck by Alban Berg and symphony concerts featuring Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Percussion, Celeste, and Strings.
Maestro remains in Japan through mid-October as the Vienna State Opera tours there early in October with Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro, returning to Vienna for opera performances there of Fidelio during October and November 2004. Later in the season he will conduct performances of Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro in Vienna (January 2005); Elektra and Wozzeck in March and April; Der Fliegende Holländer (May); and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in June, with the War Requiem (Britten) in a Vienna State Opera concert on May 18, 2005.
February will find Mo. Ozawa conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, and his appearances with the Vienna Philharmonic during the 2004/2005 season will be in June at the Musikverein and feature a performance of Don Quixote (Strauss) with his great friend, Mstislav Rostropovich and the world premiere of Penderecki’s Adagio for Cello. He will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra June 25 and 26, also with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist. Mo. Ozawa returns to Japan early in July 2005 conducting the Mito Chamber Orchestra in performances at Mito Hall followed by concerts with the New Japan Philharmonic later in the month.
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 (2001) Chavalier 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.