Seiji Ozawa was born in Shenyang, China in 1935. He started piano lessons at an early age. Ozawa studied conducting under the late Hideo Saito at Toho Gakuen School of Music. In 1959, he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors held in Besancon, France. After studying with Herbert von Karajan, Ozawa became Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season under Leonard Bernstein. After serving as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, he took office as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1973 to 2002. From 2002 to 2010 Ozawa assumed the post of Music Director of the Wiener State Opera.
The Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, for which he has served as General Director since 1992, evolved to a new stage as Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival (OMF) in 2015. In the year 2000, Ozawa started Seiji Ozawa Music Academy with the purpose of educating young musicians. In 2005, he also started Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland for music students in Europe. Furthermore, Ozawa set up the non-profit organization Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga for talented students in Asia, energetically expanding his activities.
In 2008, he was decorated with the Order of Culture, Japan. In 2010, Ozawa received honorary membership in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2011, he received the 23rd Praemium Imperiale. In 2015, he received the Kennedy Center Honors, presented to those who have made great achievements in the entertainment field for the culture of the US, the first time as a Japanese. In 2016, his recording of Maurice Ravel's "L'Enfant et Les Sortileges" ("The Child and the Spells") (released in 2014) won the 58th Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. In April the same year, Ozawa became an honorary member of the Berlin Philharmonic.
In 2013, he took office as General Director of the Art Tower Mito, succeeding the first General Director Hidekazu Yoshida. At the same time, Ozawa became General Director of the Mito Chamber Orchestra, taking responsibility of its operation.

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