Renowned Conductor Seiji Ozawa Was Married Twice Over the Course of His Life

Seiji Ozawa split his time between Boston and Tokyo so that his children could grow up with their Japanese heritage.


Feb. 9 2024, Published 10:31 a.m. ET

Seiji Ozawa with his wife and his son and daughter.
Source: Getty Images

While his name might not be widely known outside the world of classical music, Seiji Ozawa is one of the more renowned conductors of the past 50 years. Following the news of his death at the age of 88 after 29 years as the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, many want to learn more about Seiji's personal life, including who he was married to.

Article continues below advertisement

Seiji, who was originally from Japan, became renowned in the US from a relatively young age, and even studied under Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic. Here's what we know about his wives, and the rest of his personal life.

Seiji Ozawa conducting in Paris in 2000.
Source: Getty Images
Article continues below advertisement

Who was Seiji Ozawa's wife?

At the time of his death, Seiji Ozawa was married to Miki Irie ("Vera") who was a former model and actress. Miki is one quarter Russian and three-quarters Japanese, and she and Seiji had two children together: a daughter named Seira and a son named Yukiyoshi. After assuming his role as the leader of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji elected to split his time between Boston and Japan so that his family could live in Japan and his kids could grow up understanding their Japanese heritage.

Who was Seiji Ozawa's ex-wife?

Before marrying Miki, which he did in 1968, Seiji was married to pianist Kyoko Edo, who lived in Japan and was well known there for her recordings of classical compositions. She died in January of 2024, just a few weeks before her ex-husband, at the age of 86 years old.

Article continues below advertisement

What was Seiji Ozawa's cause of death?

Seiji announced in 2010 that he would be canceling all public engagements for six months to focus on treatment for esophageal cancer. At the time, doctors said that they had caught the cancer early, but he never fully recovered from the treatment he received for it, or from the back problems that developed as a result. His official cause of death was heart failure, and reporting suggests that he had been hospitalized for heart problems near the end of his life.

Source: Twitter/@AppleClassical
Article continues below advertisement

In tributes and obituaries about Seiji following the news of his death, many credit him with being the most prominent member of a class of East Asian musicians who have come to dominate the world of classical music over the last 50 years.

His 29 year-tenure with the Boston Symphony was legendary, but he left the orchestra in 2002 to become the director the Vienna Opera until 2010, when he stepped back from public life to deal with health problems.

Seiji was known in large part for the boundless energy that he displayed while conducting, and because he definitively dispelled the prejudice that many in the West had about whether East Asian musicians could fully feel the music they were conducting.

In Seiji's hands, it was always abundantly clear that he was not just technically precise, but had a full appreciation for how various classical pieces could make both the conductor and the musicians feel.

More from Distractify

Latest Music News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.