Longtime BSO Music Director And Berkshire County Fixture Seiji Ozawa Dies At 88 In Tokyo

Longtime BSO Music Director And Berkshire County Fixture Seiji Ozawa Dies At 88 In Tokyo

Director Seiji Ozawa died of a heart attack on Tuesday at his home in Tokyo at the age of 88. He was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1973 to 2002 and was the summer home of the BSO at Tanglewood in Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Ozawa had a lifelong connection to the Berkshire family and had a home in West Stockbridge until his death. In 1994, Tanglewood named one of its buildings Seiji Ozawa Hall. To learn more about Ozawa's life and his connection to the Berkshire family, WAMC spoke with BSO Vice President Tony Fogg.

Vogue. Tanglewood was the first American music hall that Siggy saw. He arrived in 1960 on a scholarship to the Tanglewood Music Center and was completely and emotionally overwhelmed by Tanglewood. That is perhaps the greatest legacy of his work and growth. He was a well-known figure in the Berkshires and still has a home in West Stockbridge. But Siji developed the festival in an amazing way. And, of course, there is a beautiful hall named after him, Seiji Ozawa Hall, which opened in 1994. He… At his peak, he was an omnipresent presence on Tanglewood campus, and his energy, friendship, and love brought the entire place to life.

WAMC. Now, when we talk about that energy and love, as you say, he was that omnipresent person at Tanglewood. Can you talk about his personality and the presence he brought to the Tanglewood community?

Well, he was a very loving person. Siji loved the whole range of humanity. He loved eloquence and eloquence and was sensitive to those in important positions of authority, but he also loved ordinary people, and of course he often went to sports, not so much in the Berkshires as here in Boston. He loved nothing more than sitting in the stands at Fenway, drinking beer, eating hot dogs and enjoying the energy of the crowd. To him, he was just his friend, and it was Seiji who introduced him to sports games.

Is there a moment from Ozawa's prolific directing career that comes to mind when you think about his life?

Well, I had the privilege of working with Siji from 1994 until he left OST in 2002 and shortly thereafter. But look, I remember some of those great moments when he was in complete control. In 2000, we did a concert under the Eiffel Tower in Paris on the Champs de Mars, and Sigy himself was in control of these huge forces: the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Paris together, the choir, the children, he wanted the audience to hear them. . He sang, led tens of thousands of them across the field of Mars, and Seiji was at times completely in his element. But I also remember many moments of intense musical passion that he brought with him. It was a big moment for me when we reopened the Tanglewood Theater Concert Hall in 1996 with Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes, which I did for the first time, but that whole production helped train young singers. Incredible dedication and energy. He understood the character very well. It was one of the greatest nights for me, but there are so many it's hard to pick just one. But when Siggy led the big company, of course founding the Tanglewood Festival Choir, naming more than half the orchestra, in all its glory, Siggy was truly at his best.

So how does the OST plan to celebrate Ozawa's life?

Look, it's early, Josh. We're doing a little reminder here in Boston this weekend, today and tomorrow. Seiji will be on our website soon. But we are just beginning to think about how we can honor his passing in the near future and celebrate his life and contributions to Tanglewood this summer. Although it's still early days, everyone will certainly have a chance to remember and celebrate Sij.

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