Sad news from Tokyo, where former Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Seiji Ozawa has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The cancer has been caught at an early stage and so Ozawa, 74, will stop conducting for six months to get treatment.
"I will abide by the doctors' advice," Ozawa said at a press conference. "I will be back within six months."
Ozawa led the BSO for 29 years -- longer than any other conductor in the orchestra's history - before leaving in 2002. Unlike current music director James Levine, whose time is largely taken up in rehearsals and music-related events, Ozawa was a figure often spotted at Red Sox games and other public events. Back in April of 2002, people lined up outside Symphony Hall to get into a free concert Ozawa conducted as a kind of farewell to the city.
''He is as much a pillar of the Boston community as any of the sports stars or Teddy Kennedy,'' David Rossman, a law professor at Boston University, told me. ''I think even people who don't like music find it fulfilling to be here and share in something like this.''
Ozawa serves now as chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera.