Japan maestro Ozawa vows return after break

TOKYO (Reuters) - Seiji Ozawa, Japan's most famous conductor, on Tuesday pledged to return to performing next year, a week after saying he would take time off to recover from a recent spell of bad health that has included bouts of pneumonia.

The former Vienna State Opera musical director, 76, who before that was conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 2010 and completed treatment later that year.

"Up until now I had too much faith in my own physical strength and ended up making trouble for everybody," Ozawa was quoted as telling the daily Yomiuri Shimbun in an interview.

"I will take a different path to rehabilitation and from next spring on, little by little resume my activities."

His doctor said in a statement last week that Ozawa had been diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia in February, and while it had cleared up after a week in hospital, Ozawa's lack of strength meant he should take a break from performing.

Ozawa, who said last week that the decision to rest had been "extremely difficult", told the newspaper that he had reluctantly concluded this was true.

"Even if I didn't feel anything during performances, once they ended I was always terribly exhausted. A full schedule in that state would be impossible," he said.

Ozawa, who underwent endoscopic lower back surgery in January 2011, took a six month break from conducting at that time and was forced to cancel a number of performances later that year as well, including taking part in a Chinese music festival.

"I was much more tense than I used to be before each performance, and I think part of my exhaustion afterwards was due to this psychological stress," he was quoted as saying, noting that he himself was aware he hadn't yet fully recovered

Ozawa was one of the first Asian classical musicians widely recognized abroad and has strived to revitalize the classical music scene in his native country by founding the Saito Kinen orchestra, named after his former music teacher.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Joseph Radford)


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