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January 7, 2010

Seiji Ozawa has cancer, expects to conduct again after six months

seiji ozawaSeiji Ozawa, one of the biggest names in classical music for decades, "said Thursday that he has esophageal cancer and will cancel his concerts for the next six months to focus on treatment," the New York Times reports.

The 74-year-old Japanese conductor will miss the final portion of his eight-year tenure as chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera, AP reports. His contract expires in June.  

Ozawa's cancer was detected recently during a routine checkup. According to news accounts, the cancer has not spread.

At his press conference in Tokyo (see photo at left), the Times notes, Ozawa said: “I have no problems drinking and eating. I intend to be back in even less than six months.”

Ozawa led the Boston Symphony for 29 years and has conducted throughout the world. He'll miss more than two dozen conducting engagements in the months ahead.

AP Photo/Kyodo News

Posted by Tim Smith at 8:45 AM | | Comments (2)


I am very sad that Maestro Ozawa is suffering fom cancer. I remember him when he first conducted in San Francisco, so young and deinty, and yet so powerful with the orchestra. I am a great fan of him, when he returned to San Francisco as guest conductor I was there. I will never forget the Berliotz Requiem he conducted in San Francisco, and I was fortunate enough to be in the chorus. He inspired us to no end.
After the concert we waited outsside the back stage door for him to come out in his kimono, and the chorus sang spontaneously Ozawa in excelsis, in stead of Osanna. I wish Maestro Osawa well, a speedy recovery and all the best to him and his family.

I great admiration
Sigrid Boehm

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts here. TIM

I was so saddened to see that Seiji Ozawa was diagnosed with cancer. I hope by now he is recovering. We spent 25 years in the Berkshires and enjoyed seeing Maestro Ozawa conduct the BSO at Tanglewood. He is just amazing. We are looking forward to seeing him at Tanglewood this summer and hope he recovers and will be able to conduct.
Gerri Stiner

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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