Seiji Ozawa was born in Shenyang, China in 1935. He 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. The next year Ozawa was invited to the Tanglewood Music Festival by Charles Munch. After studying with Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, he became Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. After serving as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, he took office as the 13th Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1973, serving as long as 29 years, an extraordinarily long term in the history of orchestras, heightening the reputation of the orchestra internationally.
From 2002 to 2010 Ozawa assumed the post of Music Director of the Wiener State Opera.
He has conducted many major orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Vienna Philharmonic. Ozawa has also appeared in prominent opera houses such as Wiener Staatsoper, l'Opéra National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
In Japan, he formed the Saito Kinen Orchestra in 1984 to commemorate his late mentor Hideo Saito. The orchestra performed concerts in Europe and America and was received with great accolades. These activities led to the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto that was launched in 1992. Since then, Ozawa has been the General Director of this international music festival. From 2015, the festival has entered a new stage as the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival. Ozawa has particularly focused on education and held the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy, Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga, Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland, and so on.
He has won many awards in Japan and abroad, including: an Honorary Doctorate from Harvard University (2000); the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class (2002); an Honorary Doctorate from the Sorbonne University of France (2004); Honorary Membership from the Wiener Staatsoper (2007); France's Officier de la Légion d'Honneur (2008); Foreign Associated Member in the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l'Institut de France (2008); the Order of Culture, which is the highest honor in Japan (2008); the first Japanese national to be bestowed honorary membership to the Vienna Philharmonic (2010); the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association (2011); and the Kennedy Center Honors (2015). In 2016, the Ravel L'enfant et les sortilèges album conducted by Seiji Ozawa and performed by the Saito Kinen Orchestra won the 58th Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. In the same year, Ozawa was named an Honorary Member of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
He served as Music Director of the Mito Chamber Orchestra (MCO) since its launch in 1990 and took office as Director General of Art Tower Mito from 2013, succeeding the first Director General Hidekazu Yoshida. At the same time, Ozawa became General Director of the Mito Chamber Orchestra, enthusiastically promoting its operation.

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