A piano prodigy at an early age, Seiji Ozawa’s virtuoso career was cut short in his teens when he broke two fingers playing rugby. He switched to composition and conducting, and after graduating with honors he left Japan for Europe.
His rise was swift, and in 1973, at the age of 38, he became Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Sporting a Beatles haircut and Nehru jackets, he took Boston’s hyper-traditional classical music scene by storm; overnight, America’s most staid orchestra gained a hip new image.
This according to “Wild card” by Andrew Moravcsik (Opera news LXXIII/6 [December 2008] pp. 32–33).
Today is Ozawa’s 80th birthday! Above, the maestro with the BSO in 1975; below, a recording from 1974.