PASSPORT: SEIJI OZAWA

As conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he is based in the States but still retreats to rural Japan to relax

Each July and August, I'm involved with the Tanglewood Music Festival. Tanglewood, in the Berkshires, Massachusetts is the beautiful summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I've spent 27 summers there.

We built a house in West Stockbridge, which is a famous, historic New England town. One of the most beautiful houses there is Seranak, which was owned by the conductor of the BSO, from 1924-1949, Serge Koussevitzky, and his wife Natalie. Guest composers and musicians stay in the house. In the evenings there are often receptions, but in the day you can just sit on the terrace, and there'll be music in the air.

I was born in Shenyang, China, to Japanese parents. When I was seven, my father thought there was going to be war so we moved to Japan. The BSO and I are like family now, but I never lost contact with Japan. My children were educated there. But Boston is a city I've grown to love.

In summer, after a concert, I enjoy walking to Fenway Park from Symphony Hall to catch the end of the Boston Red Sox baseball game. I also watch the New England Patriots play football at Foxborough, which is 45 minutes drive away.

We musicians spend our lives going moving around. About seven years ago, at the baggage claim in Vienna airport, I lost my passport. Everyone hates their passport photographs but my new one made me look half my age. The BSO press office joked that they wanted to use it in all their publicity material.

I really hate travelling, especially all those long flights. Sometimes, I sneak in a short holiday with work. Last Christmas and New Year, I had a demanding opera schedule in Vienna. But as the curtain came down, I rushed off to catch the night train to St Christoph in the Arlberg region - a skier's paradise. I stayed at the St Christoph Bundes sports hall. There are wonderful teachers but no shops or apres-ski - definitely for serious skiing.

My daughter, Seira, is 26, and my son, Yukiyoshi, 24, but we still enjoy family holidays. In America, we ski in the west, at Lake Tahoe. In Japan, we built a house on a mountain in Nagano, the site of the winter Olympic slalom races. Here, everything is still old fashioned. When the Olympics came, the character of the area didn't change that much. The restaurants are very simple, and the locals are traditional. I have many friends in the mountains. Life there is so informal - I appreciate it after one city after another. Tokyo is not the real Japan any more - to get to know it, you need to go to the countryside or to a hot spa. I spend from 12 to 15 weeks a year there, and my children were educated there. In 1992, I founded the Saito Kinen music festival in Matsumoto, now an annual event.

Earlier this year, I conducted Madam Butterfly, the BSO's 25th anniversary present to me. It was thrilling, but when it was over, I was really tired, so I flew to Honolulu to meet my wife and children. We spent the days on the beach. Conducting is such a tense profession, it's essential to find places where you can switch off. The danger is I can become so relaxed, it's difficult to get back into the rhythm of looking at scores and doing long hours of preparation.

Seiji Ozawa will be conducting the Vienna Philharmonic at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 21 June.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore