Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland Masterclasses

Saturday 16 April 2016 - Auditorium

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Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland Masterclasses

On 16 April 2016, the Fondation Louis Vuitton will be again playing host to the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland. On the agenda is a masterclass open to the public featuring a string quartet directed by Sadao Harada and an open orchestra rehearsal conducted by Seiji Ozawa.


Seiji Ozawa International Academy of Switzerland

"It is fascinating to see how young artists progress in such little time.”

Seiji Ozawa


Seiji Ozawa's passion for teaching inspired him to found the International Music Academy – Switzerland in 2004, in Rolle, near Geneva. Since 2011 it has been known as the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland.    

Seiji Ozawa's approach

Seiji Ozawa believes that playing chamber music, particularly in a string quartet, is essential. He sees the string quartet as the very essence of music. Composers give the best of themselves, with nothing superfluous or florid. Working with a string quartet means going into the finest details of the style and intentions of the music's composer. This learning process is an essential step for young virtuosos who wish to become high profile artists.



There is a very strict selection process for these musicians, who are called upon to practice their art at the highest level. Under the stewardship of Blanche d’Harcourt, the Academy's director, and with the participation of Julien Szulman and Agata Szymczewska, former students at the Academy, the selection committee seeks out new young talents from the major European conservatories and international competitions to take part in auditions throughout the year. Then the final group of students is named by Seiji Ozawa, the artistic directors and the teachers.



The goal of the Academy is to hone the skills of the most talented young instrumentalists, which can only be achieved by working together and respecting the high standards of the very best teachers. In order to do this, the Academy employs teachers, all of them performers, whose international reputations come hand in hand with many years of musical teaching experience. They include Pamela Frank, Nobuko Imai and Sadao Harada.



The quartets are formed based on mutual affinity, as a result of discussions among Seiji Ozawa, the teachers, the instrumentalists and the artistic department, taking into account the style, tone and temperament of each musician. Students work with each of the teachers in turn, in the presence of Seiji Ozawa, in conditions that foster the transmission of unique expertise.



Seiji Ozawa leads all the students for open rehearsals, to which he invites the public from Rolle as well as guests of the Academy. A series of concerts given in prestigious venues such as Victoria Hall in Geneva or the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and the “Seiji Ozawa Hall” in Tanglewood, MA, USA completes the work of the Academy. A concert is also presented for residents of the Fondation Aigues-Vertes.


During the year

The artistic team shows outstanding commitment and advises young musicians, while the Geneva office oversees the organization and management of the Academy.

the artists

Seiji Ozawa

"Teaching is like a drug! Once you start, you cannot stop. Working with young musicians at a very high level fills me with joy. "

Seiji Ozawa has had an extremely impressive career. He was born in China to Japanese parents on 1 September 1935. But the Toho music school in Tokyo was where he trained in Western music. His first master, Hideo Saito, conferred to him the basic essential techniques, which then allowed Ozawa to travel to Europe and the United States, the origins of the Western music repertoire he had studied.

In 1959 he was awarded First Prize in the Besançon Competition for Young Conductors. From that point, his career took flight. Charles Münch invited him to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Tanglewood. Then Seiji Ozawa received teaching from Herbert von Karajan in Berlin before intensifying his training with Leonard Bernstein, a man who Ozawa calls a "genius". Bernstein had Ozawa join the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for its tour in Japan.

During his "American" years, Seiji Ozawa directed the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1969, before being appointed conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1970, a position he held until 1976. He fulfilled this role while being the official conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he led until 2001.

Back in Europe, where he was musical director of the Vienna Opera from 2002 to 2010, Seiji Ozawa went on fostering his ties with Japan. He founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra in 1984 as a tribute to his teacher Hideo Saito.

The orchestra brings together instrumentalists from the most prestigious Western orchestras every summer for the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto. In parallel, twice a year the Maestro leads the Mito Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in 1990 and features around thirty top level musicians.

The musical education of young artists is the focus of all his efforts. Seiji Ozawa is responsible for founding several academies: the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga and the Ongaku-Juku Academy in Japan, as well as the International Music Academy - Switzerland (IMAS) in Geneva, which has been known since 2011 as the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland.

Ever loyal to his audiences, Seiji Ozawa devotes his immense talent to his legendary performances, which make him one of this century's greatest conductors.

Sadao Harada


As the founder and mentor of the Tokyo String Quartet that he has led for 30 years, Sadao Harada has established a worldwide reputation and has collected countless awards as much for his exceptional technical mastery as for the dynamism of his performances.


He started out studying music with his father, and at the age of 11 studied music with the master Hideo Saito. He then became the youngest cellist in the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Later he joined the Juilliard School in the United States, and in 1969 founded the Tokyo String Quartet. Since 1999 he has pursued a very intense international career as an acclaimed soloist, sought-after teacher and renowned chamber music performer.

The essential

Saturday 16 April 2016



Public Masterclasses

- 4 pm-6 pm, Conducted by Sadao Harada: String quartet

Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaïkovsky


- 6.30-7 pm, Conducted by Seiji Ozawa: Chamber Orchestra

Bach, slow movement from the Concerto for Two Violins

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