Obituary: Japanese Conductor Taijiro Iimori Dies at 82

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: AkiraMuto)

On August 15, 2023, Japanese conductor Taijiro Iimori died at the age of 82.

According to news reports, the conductor died of acute heart failure and the funeral will be led by his nephew Shintaro Iimori.

Born in northeastern China in 1940, Iimori became a student of the renowned musical teacher Hideo Saito at the Toho Gakuen School of Music and trained with such maestros as Seiji Ozawa, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, and Michiyoshi Inoue.

Following his studies, Iimori won prizes at the famed International Dimitris Mitropoulos Competition for Conductors and the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition. He would hold posts with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra.

From 2014 to 2018 Iimori served as the artistic director of opera at the New National Theatre, Tokyo. He also became a member of the Japan Art Academy.

He was also well-known in Germany where he was a music assistant at the Bayreuth Festival for more than 20 years from 1970 and conducted opera in Bremen and Mannheim, where he learned traditional German and Austrian performance styles.

Iimori became recognized for his interpretations of works by Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner and led a successful performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra. In April, he led the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra at what would be his final performance.

Throughout his career, Iimori won numerous awards including the Suntory Music Award and the Japan Art Academy Prize. The Japanese government also honored him as a Person of Cultural Merit and awarded him the Medal with Purple Ribbon.