On Tour: SEIJI OZAWA &
the SAITO KINEN ORCHESTRA:
Mahler: Symphony # 9
Elsewhere in FanFaire...
Seiji Ozawa/Boston Symphony:
Rostropovich's 70th Bday
1999 Opening Night
Cooking with Music
Das Lied von der Erde
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the founder of the Boston Symphony have imagined that a China-born Japanese
would be the longest-tenured Music Director of America's most Yankee orchestra,
indeed of any of the world's great orchestras?
Or could Gustav Mahler have thought that some one hundred years after his glorious tenure at the Vienna State Opera, the baton would pass on to someone born outside the perimeter of Western music?
Ironically, Japan was slow to embrace its own wunderkind even as he was reaping accolades in the West, the veritable "prophet - not without honor, save in his own country." In a press interview preceding Boston Symphony's 1999-2000 Season Opening Night (shown in photos above), vowing to make only the very best music he can, he professed a nonchalant attitude to press criticism, and reminisced how in Tokyo he was boycotted by orchestra members at what was to have been a concert celebrating his international successes. Nonetheless, he has held steadfast to his roots, not an iota less Japanese than the kimono he slips into at the end of every concert, devoting his creative energies to sowing the seeds of Western music in Japan. And in time, Japan came to love its own with a passion.
In 1984 he co-founded with Kazuyoshi Akiyama the Saito Kinen Orchestra in commemoration of the 10th death anniversary of Hideo Saito - cellist, conductor, early proponent of the study of Western music in Japan, and the teacher who nurtured his dream. In 1992 he co-founded the Saito Kinen Festival, held every summer in the spirit of his beloved Tanglewood, in the Japanese Alps of Matsumoto, with the Saito Kinen Orchestra as resident ensemble. As its Director to date, needless to say, he has brought both the Orchestra and the Festival to international prominence. In 1990 he took the Orchestra on a much acclaimed European tour, a triumph that is bound to be repeated as he takes the ensemble on its first American tour in the first year of the 21st century.