Watch: Seiji Ozawa conducts again, from a wheelchair

Watch: Seiji Ozawa conducts again, from a wheelchair


norman lebrecht

November 28, 2022

The ailing ex-Boston music director has conducted for the first time in three years.

The aim? ‘To deliver a message to the world that now is the time to help and cooperate with each other as fellow citizens of Earth’.

The performance is beamed to astronauts in outer space. At the end Seiji, 87, is in tears.


  • bare truth says:

    In what other fields of human activity, except odd religions, are 87 years old on wheel chairs and 95 year old on walking frames idolized and revered with a fetish sort of attitude?

    Seriously people, what the f is wrong with classical music?

    • just saying says:

      How about American politicians? lol

    • S. Hawking says:

      Yes, in what other field?

    • Guest says:

      ‘Seriously people, what the f is wrong with classical music?’

      People like you, that’s what’s wrong with it.

    • Full of appreciation says:

      Showing respect, appreciation and admiration to someone who has done far more for humanity in their life than you. We should be revering people of this age in ALL fields MUCH more. What an inspiration Ozawa is. I can’t imagine the mental and physical anguish he was in to gift us this.

      • MacroV says:

        The last time Ozawa conducted in Berlin, he was interviewed by Daishin Kashimoto on the DCH. The reverence that Kashimoto showed for Ozawa – he who blazed the trail for nearly all Japanese musicians in the West – was palpable. It was touching.

    • Potter Herald says:

      Well, actors, dancers, sportsmen and etc are frequently praised in the twilight of their lives.

      • Una says:

        Except they’re not 95 but 35! But it is important to honour people like Seiji Ozawa as their experience is worth its weight in gold, and far beyond the world of conducting. Society is so quick to bin or bury old people as an embarassment.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Here are two samples of why it is worth revering octogenarian and nonagenarian conductors.

      Don’t look. Just listen.

    • Blake says:

      It’s not because of his current prowess, but what he has done for music over the course of his lifetime. Most conductors we revere are older because it takes that long to master the art of conducting. I respectfully suggest getting over your distaste for wisdom.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      You have compared people WITH music. Classical music does not have walking frames or wheel chairs – people do. Now, let’s think of some notable elderly people with disabilities who have important jobs: ah, that’s right: Roosevelt. Seriously, what the f was and is wrong with American politics? (Don’t answer that!)

    • Jason says:

      Better to ask WTF is wrong with all those other fields of activity that don’t revere the accomplishments 87 and 95 year olds?

  • Sly says:

    Sad to see

  • TNVol says:

    Ozawa was an inspiration to me as a very young musician. I love seeing his spirit continue to soar at 87!

  • M McGrath says:

    Well-intentioned. Great to celebrate aged leaders. A bit of a PR thing, perhaps, given the space connection? But: I’m not sure he’s actually conducting in this video, nor does he look capable of a rehearsal, if I’m honest.
    This particular example: Pitiful, actually.

    BUT! Wheelchairs on the conductor’s podium? There have been and are today, conductors who were physically handicapped, but who had vim and vigor and actively communicated with the orchestra and produce gleaming performances. James DePreist conducted from a wheelchair due to polio, Karl Böhm had to conduct sitting down in his later years, ditto James Levine with his back problems, etc., etc.

    As for “bare truth’s” comments below: Go to sports and you’ll find Muhammed Ali still miming boxing matches on TV while visibly suffering from advanced Parkinson’s. FDR was an excellent president – and in a wheelchair. In Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble was finance minister and latterly President of the Parliament at 79 and in a wheelchair from an assassination attempt. Not to mention the superb governor of the state of Rhineland Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, who suffers from MS and must often use a wheelchair. Another example is President Jimmy Carter, who at 98, and in a wheelchair, still gets rolled out in Georgia to the applause of many. All these people are deeply respected for their accomplishments as well as how they live their lives with disabilities. So, classical music is no exception here.

    Why the frequent vitriol sprayed at “classical music,” I wonder, mixed with misinformation and just ignorance (Blanchett comes to mind)??

  • Gustavo says:

    He still exudes more esprit than Karajan did in his last years.

  • Rob says:

    It’s a good job they didn’t play it any faster.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Reminds me of the late Frans Bruggen, conducting from his wheelchair with naso-gastric tube. Music right to the very end!!

  • Mr. Ron says:

    He looks older than 87.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    Japan annually observes a ‘Respect for the Aged’ Day (敬老の日) – a public holiday! – reflecting an attitude that should perhaps be more universal?

  • Ben G. says:

    IF ANY OF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS, start at 4:00 and be amazed:

  • microview says:

    Karl Böhm had to conduct sitting down in his later years

    Concealing nis Nazi armband perhaps.

  • Jorge says:

    Creo que es de pésimo gusto festinar con la imágen de una persona con Alzheimer, sin respetar su privacidad y su honor. Lamentable!!!

  • Stephen Owades says:

    The complete performance of Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture, as performed by Seiji Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra from Nagano, Japan and transmitted directly to Koichi Wakata, a Japanese astronaut aboard the International Space Station as part of the “One Earth Mission,” is now available on YouTube along with introductory and concluding remarks by Seira Ozawa (Seiji’s daughter), Mamoru Mohri of JAXA (Japan’s space agency), and Mr Wakata.

  • Angoo says:

    The indomitable human spirit! Bravo, Mr. Seiji Ozawa. I salute you.