Hiroko Nakamura Dies

Japan’s most famous concert pianist, Hiroko Nakamura, died July 26 at her home in Tokyo. 

She was 72 and had battled bowel cancer. Nakamura belonged to the generation of classical Japanese musicians who studied as a child under Hideo Saito, who was also the mentor of world-famous conductor Seiji Ozawa.

She made her debut in 1959 as the youngest competitor ever to win the top prize at the Music Competition of Japan.

Later she studied at Juilliard in New York and won fourth prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 1965, the first Japanese pianist to rank that high. In addition to a full schedule of concert appearances in and out of Japan, Nakamura’s career was mainly characterized by her work as a judge at many international piano competitions, including the Chopin and Tchaikovsky Concours, and was the chair of the jury of the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition.

She is survived by her husband, Kaoru Shoji, a prize-winning novelist.