Hiroyuki Iwaki

Hiroyuki Iwaki

Japanese conductor and percussionist.
Date of Birth: 06.09.1932
Country: Japan

Biography of Hiroyuki Iwaki

Hiroyuki Iwaki was a Japanese conductor and percussionist. He was born in Tokyo and later moved to Kyoto with his family. Iwaki developed a passion for music at a young age and was already playing the xylophone well by the age of 9. He returned to Tokyo in the fifth grade and had to flee from air raids in May 1945. He found refuge with relatives in Kanazawa.

Hiroyuki Iwaki

After the end of World War II, Iwaki followed his father to the mountainous region of Gifu. In 1951, he graduated from school and initially planned to study German literature at the University of Tokyo. However, he fell ill with a severe fever just before the exams. As a result, Iwaki ended up joining the percussion group at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Due to the mistreatment of students in unpopular specialties, including Iwaki's, he did not complete his studies.

In 1956, Iwaki tried his hand at conducting for the first time with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. He was later honored with the title of the orchestra's permanent conductor. In 1977, Iwaki became the first Japanese conductor to lead the Vienna Philharmonic, thanks to Bernard Haitink's unexpected illness.

In 1973, Iwaki embarked on a concert tour in Australia and formed a strong connection with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed as the chief conductor for a record-breaking 23 years, from 1974 to 1997. During this time, Iwaki took his orchestra on concert tours in Japan twice. In 1990, he became the orchestra's Conductor Laureate, a title he held even after retiring.

One of Iwaki's most remarkable projects was a unique concert where all of Ludwig van Beethoven's symphonies were performed. The concert started on the day of December 31, 2004, and ended in the early morning of January 1, 2005. Iwaki repeated this concert a year later. On June 13, 2006, Hiroyuki Iwaki passed away in Tokyo from heart failure at the age of 73.