Seiji Ozawa obituary

First Japanese conductor to gain recognition in the west who achieved superstar status

Seiji Ozawa, who has died aged 88, was one of the leading conductors of his generation. Though his place in the pantheon of truly great conductors was questionable, Ozawa was for several decades a major player on the international scene and a figure of some historical significance on several counts.

He was, to begin with, the first conductor from Japan to achieve recognition in the west, the only one to date to attain superstar status, the longest serving music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1973-2002) and one of the longest serving of any American orchestra. He had a prodigious memory and habitually conducted with the score unopened in front of him.

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