Celebrated Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, who led world-renowned orchestras, died at his home in Tokyo aged 88, his management announced on Friday.
“Conductor Seiji Ozawa passed away peacefully at his home on February 6th, 2024, at the age of 88,” his management said in a statement on its official Facebook page.
He died of heart failure and the funeral was attended by close relatives according to his wishes, the statement read.
His death was widely reported by local media and messages of condolences flooded social media.
Ozawa was born in 1935 in the Chinese province of Manchuria, then a Japanese colony, and started learning piano at elementary school.
But he broke two fingers as a teenager while playing rugby — another passion — and switched to conducting.
He moved abroad in 1959 and met some of the greatest luminaries of the classical music world, including the composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, becoming his assistant at the New York Philharmonic in the 1961-1962 season.
Ozawa went on to lead orchestras in Chicago, Toronto and San Francisco. He also had a 29-year stint as musical director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where a concert hall was named after him.
He left in 2002 to become chief conductor at the Vienna State Opera until 2010.