Seiji Ozawa and the Berliner Philharmoniker have enjoyed a close artistic partnership since his acclaimed debut in 1966, and in 2016, the orchestra appointed him an honorary member. In addition to countless concerts in which the conductor thrilled audiences and the press alike as a fiery and precise interpreter of Berlioz and Stravinsky, he also made numerous recordings and CDs with the orchestra. Many of them still have benchmark status today, such as the complete recording of the Prokofiev symphonies from the 1990s.
Seiji Ozawa was born in 1935 to Japanese parents in the Chinese metropolis of Shenyang and studied conducting and composition in Tokyo. A winner of several international competitions, he came to Berlin as a master student of Herbert von Karajan with the help of a scholarship and then became Leonard Bernstein’s assistant at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for the 1961/62 season. After his time as chief conductor of the orchestras in Toronto and San Francisco, Ozawa was head of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1973 to 2002 and music director of Wiener Staatsoper from 2002 to 2010. He has also made guest appearances at the leading opera houses and conducted orchestras of international renown. In memory of his teacher Hideo Saito, Seiji Ozawa founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra and the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, whose artistic development he intensively supported and which today bears his name. In 2004, Ozawa founded the International Music Academy in Switzerland with the aim of providing young musicians with chamber music training and concert performances. Among the conductor’s numerous awards are the appointment as Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, honorary doctorates from Harvard University and the Sorbonne as well as the Japanese Order of Culture and the Praemium Imperiale.