NAGANO (Kyodo) Conductor Seiji Ozawa revealed Sunday he had an operation in late January that removed all of his esophagus, and he has been back at work in Nagano Prefecture since July 26.

In the mountain resort of Shiga Kogen, the 74-year-old maestro conducted a chamber orchestra of young musicians practicing for their formal performance Tuesday as part of the annual Saito Kinen Matsumoto festival.

“I consider today, the first day I conducted before an audience after my convalescence, as the first date of my second life,” Ozawa said at a news conference, adding he lost 15 kg after the operation.

“I hope my music has acquired more depth” after experiencing a life-threatening disease, he said.

Ozawa announced in January he had esophagus cancer.

He has been training musicians in their teens and 20s since July 26 and will conduct them at the Mori no Ongakudo music hall in Shiga Kogen on Tuesday.

On Sunday, he conducted a divertimento by Mozart and Tchaikovsky’s serenade for strings with use of his whole body, although he said, “My back aches so I can’t help sitting down after walking just six steps.”

Ozawa canceled numerous engagements during his battle with cancer.

“I plan to work at my own pace and apologize for putting myself first,” he said.

Ozawa said, however, he will perform at the annual music festival — an event held in tribute to Hideo Saito, a teacher of Ozawa and other musicians — and another music festival called Japan NYC scheduled for December and next March and April in New York.

“I feel responsible for these events,” he said.

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