The first Asian to break through as a conductor in the West, Seiji Ozawa renewed the figure of the classical maestro with a charisma worthy of a Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) or a Charles Munch (1891-1968), THE “musical father” who directed him towards the Boston Symphony Orchestra, at the head of which he developed his art of suggestion for almost thirty years, before investing in Japan with the creation of an orchestra and then a festival internationally famous. The conductor died at the age of 88 on Tuesday February 6 in Tokyo, according to his son’s statements daily Japanese Asahi Shimbun.
Seiji Ozawa was born on 1er September 1935 in the town of Mukden (today Shenyang) in Manchuria, a province of China then occupied by Japanese troops. His father, Kaisaku Ozawa, settled there as a dentist under the aegis of the Concordia association, which campaigns for the creation of a pan-Asian state. The first name Seiji, given to his third son, testifies to this political commitment since it results from the contraction of the first names of two important generals of the Japanese army, Seishiro Itagaki for the first syllable, “Sei”, and Kanji Ishiwara, for the second, “ji”.
In 1936, the family moved to Beijing and then, five years later, to Tachikawa, on the outskirts of Tokyo. Young Seiji dabbled a little in music using a small accordion that he received as a Christmas present in 1940, but it was only at the age of 10 that he took up the piano by taking lessons with Noboru Toyomasu, in Tokyo. Although he can first benefit from the school instrument, he must nevertheless have one at home and, his parents not having many means, the child waits patiently for an opportunity to present itself. .
Two broken fingers in rugby
The acquisition will be made in Yokohama, a city about fifty kilometers away, where Seiji’s two brothers will load the Yamaha upright piano onto a hand-driven rickshaw to bring it back to the family home after a two-day trip. The youngest of the Ozawas is studying with Noboru Toyomasu and hopes to succeed in his Bach thanks to him (the music of the Leipzig cantor constituting the alpha and omega of the Japanese master’s teaching) with the prospect of a career in music. pianist.
However, the restless Seiji needs sport to channel his energy and he does so in a rugby team in the leadership position corresponding to number 8. This situation causes him to take more hits than his teammates, particularly during a match in 1949 from which he left with a bloody face and two broken fingers. The index and middle fingers of the right hand being out of play for a long time, the future of the pianist is called into question but not that of the musician. Toyomasu advises his student to move towards conducting.
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