Obituary: Professor & Conductor Yuji Yuasa Dies at 77

By Francisco Salazar

On Dec. 17, 2022, Japanese conductor Yuji Yuasa died at the age of 77.

The conductor was a master from the Vienna Music University for 30 years and became one of the most beloved professors in the industry. He was also well-known in Japan and was known as a teacher who systematically analyzed the essence of traditional conducting.

He was a former assistant to Seiji Ozawa.

Many former students have taken to social media to pay tribute to the professor such as Gullermo Garcia Calvo, who said, “I received the sad news of the passing of my teacher for orchestrating, Mr. Yuji Yuasa, last Saturday. He was an assistant to Leopold Hager and I learned the technique of conducting from him. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. I have a lot to thank him for and will always remember him fondly.”

Meanwhile, Gergely Madaras said, “The sad news arrived this afternoon about the sudden passing of our dear professor, Yuji Yuasa. A compass for generations about conducting techniques, it was a privilege to study with him every week during my 5 years in Vienna.”

He added, “Dear Yuji-san, thank you for your guidance, your trust, and wise words – and for your continued care about my musical path even a decade after my graduation. Life’s generous present that I was able to spend two beautiful days with you this October in Tokyo, and catching you giving your last masterclass to your Japanese students, who clinged on each of your words, and where I took this pirate-video, conducting your all-time favorite piece, and showing us ‘wie es sein muss.'”  Let this sneak-peek remind all of us of your amazing musicality, your great sense of humor and your joy of life, which seemed to radiate from you even during the most difficult times!