Boston Symphony Orchestra & Seiji Ozawa


Biography Boston Symphony Orchestra & Seiji Ozawa


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.

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Now in its 133rd season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave its inaugural concert on October 22, 1881, and has continued to uphold the vision of its founder, the businessman, philanthropist, Civil War veteran, and amateur musician Henry Lee Higginson, for well over a century. The Boston Symphony Orchestra has performed throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, South America, and China; in addition, it reaches audiences numbering in the millions through its performances on radio, television, and recordings. It plays an active role in commissioning new works from today’s most important composers; its summer season at Tanglewood is regarded as one of the world’s most important music festivals; it helps develop the audience of the future through BSO Youth Concerts and through a variety of outreach programs involving the entire Boston community; and, during the Tanglewood season, it sponsors the Tanglewood Music Center, one of the world’s most important training grounds for young composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and vocalists. The orchestra’s virtuosity is reflected in the concert and recording activities of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, one of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles made up of a major symphony orchestra’s principal players, and the activities of the Boston Pops Orchestra have established an international standard for the performance of lighter kinds of music. Overall, the mission of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is to foster and maintain an organization dedicated to the making of music consonant with the highest aspirations of musical art, creating performances and providing educational and training programs at the highest level of excellence. This is accomplished with the continued support of its audiences, governmental assistance on both the federal and local levels, and through the generosity of many foundations, businesses, and individuals.

Henry Lee Higginson dreamed of founding a great and permanent orchestra in his hometown of Boston for many years before that vision approached reality in the spring of 1881. The following October the first Boston Symphony Orchestra concert was given under the direction of conductor Georg Henschel, who would remain as music director until 1884. For nearly twenty years Boston Symphony concerts were held in the Old Boston Music Hall; Symphony Hall, one of the world’s most highly regarded concert halls, was opened on October 15, 1900. The BSO’s 2000-01 season celebrated the centennial of Symphony Hall, and the rich history of music performed and introduced to the world at Symphony Hall since it opened a century ago.

Georg Henschel was succeeded by a series of German-born and -trained conductors – Wilhelm Gericke, Arthur Nikisch, Emil Paur, and Max Fiedler – culminating in the appointment of the legendary Karl Muck, who served two tenures as music director, 1906-08 and 1912-18. Meanwhile, in July 1885, the musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra had given their first “Promenade” concert, offering both music and refreshments, and fulfilling Major Higginson’s wish to give “concerts of a lighter kind of music.” These concerts, soon to be given in the springtime and renamed first “Popular” and then “Pops,” fast became a tradition.

In 1915 the orchestra made its first transcontinental trip, playing 13 concerts at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Recording, begun with the Victor Talking Machine Company (predecessor to RCA Victor) in 1917, continued with increasing frequency. In 1918 Henri Rabaud was engaged as conductor. He was succeeded the following year by Pierre Monteux. These appointments marked the beginning of a French-oriented tradition that would be maintained, even during the Russian-born Serge Koussevitzky’s time, with the employment of many French-trained musicians.

The Koussevitzky era began in 1924. His extraordinary musicianship and electric personality proved so enduring that he served an unprecedented term of 25 years. The BSO’s first live concert broadcasts, privately funded, ran from January 1926 through the 1927-28 season. Broadcasts continued sporadically in the early 1930s, regular live Boston Symphony broadcasts being initiated in October 1935. In 1936 Koussevitzky led the orchestra’s first concerts in the Berkshires; a year later he and the players took up annual summer residence at Tanglewood. Koussevitzky passionately shared Major Higginson’s dream of “a good honest school for musicians,” and in 1940 that dream was realized with the founding of the Berkshire Music Center (now called the Tanglewood Music Center).

In 1929 the free Esplanade concerts on the Charles River in Boston were inaugurated by Arthur Fiedler, who had been a member of the orchestra since 1915 and who in 1930 became the 18th conductor of the Boston Pops. Fiedler would hold the post for half a century, to be succeeded by John Williams in 1980. The Boston Pops Orchestra celebrated its 100th birthday in 1985 under Mr. Williams’ baton. Keith Lockhart began his tenure as 20th conductor of the Boston Pops in May 1995, succeeding Mr. Williams.

Charles Munch followed Koussevitzky as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1949. Munch continued Koussevitzky’s practice of supporting contemporary composers and introduced much music from the French repertory to this country. During his tenure the orchestra toured abroad for the first time and its continuing series of Youth Concerts was initiated under the leadership of Harry Ellis Dickson. Erich Leinsdorf began his seven-year term as music director in 1962. Leinsdorf presented numerous premieres, restored many forgotten and neglected works to the repertory, and, like his two predecessors, made many recordings for RCA; in addition, many concerts were televised under his direction. Leinsdorf was also an energetic director of the Tanglewood Music Center; under his leadership a full-tuition fellowship program was established. Also during these years, in 1964, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players were founded. William Steinberg succeeded Leinsdorf in 1969. He conducted a number of American and world premieres, made recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and RCA, appeared regularly on television, led the 1971 European tour, and directed concerts the east coast, in the south, and in the midwest.

Seiji Ozawa became the BSO’s thirteenth music director in the fall of 1973, following a year as music adviser and three years as an artistic director at Tanglewood. His historic twenty-nine-year tenure, from 1973 to 2002, exceeded that of any previous BSO conductor; in the summer of 2002, at the completion of his tenure, he was named Music Director Laureate. Besides maintaining the orchestra’s reputation worldwide, Ozawa reaffirmed the BSO’s commitment to new music through the commissioning of many new works (including commissions marking the BSO’s centennial in 1981 and the TMC’s fiftieth anniversary in 1990), played an active role at the Tanglewood Music Center, and further expanded the BSO’s recording activities. In 1995 he and the BSO welcomed Bernard Haitink as principal guest conductor. Named Conductor Emeritus in 2004, Mr. Haitink has led the BSO in Boston, New York, at Tanglewood, and on tour in Europe, and has also recorded with the orchestra.

The first American-born conductor to hold the position, James Levine was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2011, having been named music director designate in October 2001. As the BSO’s fourteenth music director, Levine led wide-ranging programs that balanced great orchestral, operatic, and choral classics with equally significant music of the 20th and 21st centuries, including newly commissioned works from such significant American composers as Carter, Harbison, Kirchner, Lieberson, Schuller, Williams, and Wuorinen. In addition, he appeared as pianist with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and released a number of recordings, all drawn from live performances at Symphony Hall, on BSO Classics, the orchestra’s own label. At the Tanglewood Music Center he conducted the TMC Orchestra and worked with the TMC Fellows in classes devoted to orchestral repertoire, Lieder, and opera. In late summer 2007, he led the BSO in an acclaimed tour of European music festivals.

Today the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc., presents more than 250 concerts annually. It is an ensemble that has richly fulfilled Henry Lee Higginson’s vision of a great and permanent orchestra in Boston.

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