Born: May 31, 1935 - New York City, New York, USA1
Died: July 21, 2009 - Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese conductor, Hiroshi Wakasugi, was born in New York City, where his father was the Japanese Consul-General1 (according to Bakerís3, he was born in Tokyo). He studied music with Hideo Saito and Norbert Kaneko at the Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1967 he was awarded a prize by the Japanese Ministry
After graduation, Hiroshi Wakasugi was appointed researching conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra (Japan). From 1965, he led and developed the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, now one of the leading orchestras in Japan. For their premiere of Penderecki's St. Luke Passion, Wakasugi was awarded the National Arts Festival Prize by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 19681. He established the Tokyo Chamber Opera Theatre in 1969, and was its Artistic Director at the time of his death. In 1975, he became conductor of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra3.
Besides leading many international orchestras, Hiroshi Wakasugi was Principal Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln from 1977 to 1983, and Generalmusikdirektor of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf from 1981 to 19861 (or 1982-19873). In 1981, he made his USA debut as a guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich in Switzerland from 1987 to 19911 (or 1985-19913). From 1982 to 1991, he was also a permanent conductor at the Semperoper Dresden and Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. He was Music Director (1986-1995) and Principal Conductor (1987-1995) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. In spring 1995, he was appointed a permanent conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra. In 2005, he was named artistic consultant to the opera division of the New National Theatre Tokyo. He was appointed the artistic director (i.e. Music Director) of the New National Theatre in September 2007. At his death he was the Artistic Director of Biwako Opera Theatre, and of the Tokyo Chamber Opera Theatre.
Hiroshi Wakasugi was best known for conducting such German composers as Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, but also conducted works by Kosaku Yamada. He premiered many of the major Western operas in Japan.
Hiroshi Wakasugi held a professorship at Tokyo National University of the Arts and Toho Gakuen School of Music. He was a member of the Japan Art Academy. He was honoured with many awards for cultural achievement, including of the 1986 Suntory Music Award. He died of multiple organ failure at a Tokyo hospital on July 21, 2009, aged 74.