As a child, Takako Nishizaki studied with her father, Shinji, the co-founder of the Suzuki Method and with Shinichi Suzuki himself. She was the first student to complete the now famous Suzuki course and was awarded a teacher's diploma at the tender age of nine.
She started performing in public at age 5 and, before she was 10, had already played for artists such as Isaac Stern and Sir Malcolm Sargent as well as the French author, Georges Duhamel, who wrote about this experience in his book about Japan.
Subsequently, she studied with Broadus Erle and Hideo Saito at Toho Conservatory in Tokyo. In 1962 she went to the United States and first studied with Broadus Erle at Yale and then with Joseph Fuchs at Juilliard. Other teachers at the time included Louis Persinger (sonata classes) and Aldo Parisot (chamber music).
While at Juilliard, Takako Nishizaki was awarded the Fritz Kreisler Scholarship, established by the great violinist himself. Among her sponsors was Alice Tully.
In 1964 she won Second Prize at the Leventritt International Competition (behind Itzhak Perlman) and in 1969 First Prize in the Juilliard Concerto Competition (performing Mozart?s Sinfonia Concertante with Nobuko Imai).
Her success at the Leventritt International Competition launched her concert career, initially only in the United States but subsequently internationally.
Takako Nishizaki performed in concert with many international orchestras, among them the Sydney Symphony, the Melbourne Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony, the Central Philharmonic in Beijing, the Shanghai Symphony, the Polish National Radio Symphony, the Moscow Symphony, the Ukraine State Symphony, the Slovak Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de Lille, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Singapore Symphony and many orchestras in the United States and her native Japan.
Takako Nishizaki performed and recorded with pianists Andras Schiff, Jenő Jandó, Wolf Harden, Alexander Zakin, Michael Ponti, Koon-Woo Paik and others.
She performed in chamber music ensembles with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Nobuko Imai, Ko Iwasaki, Maria Kliegel and others.
She appeared at the Sofia, Prague Spring, Bath, Chautauqua and Beijing International festivals and participated in the Australian and New Zealand international chamber music festivals.
Jury member of Major Competitions
Takako Nishizaki also serves on the juries of major international violin competitions including the Fritz Kreisler (Vienna) , Michael Hill (New Zealand) and Hannover competitions.
Takako Nishizaki is one of the most frequently recorded and among the best-selling violinists of all time. Her recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons was named the 8th best-selling classical CD of all time with sales exceeding 1,000,000 copies to-date. Her recordings of the Butterfly Lovers Concerto by He and Chen sold more than three million copies in the People's Republic of China and throughout South-East Asia.
Including her recordings of Chinese music, Takako Nishizaki has recorded more than 100 CDs to date.
For RCA she recorded the complete Sonatas of Grieg and a CD with short pieces by Fritz Kreisler and for Telefunken, Camerata and Marco Polo ten discs with works by Kreisler.
Also for Marco Polo, she recorded a large number of rare violin concertos, by Anton Rubinstein, Louis Spohr, César Cui, Charles de Bériot, Respighi and Joseph Joachim.
For Naxos, she has recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons, the complete works for Violin and Orchestra by Mozart (including the Haffner Serenade), Beethoven, Bach and Tchaikowsky as well as the concertos of Brahms, Bruch and Mendelssohn. The Vivaldi, Bach, Brahms/Bruch and Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn recordings were awarded Platinum Discs (for sales in excess of 100,000 copies each world-wide).
Also for Naxos, she recorded the complete sonatas for Violin and Piano of Mozart (on six CDs) and Beethoven (on four CDs) as well as the sonatas of Grieg and Franck.
Many of her concerto and sonata recordings were awarded the highest *** rating by the authoritative Penguin Guide to Compact Discs.
Music for the Mozart Effect
Takako Nishizaki's recordings of the Mozart violin concertos and violin sonatas were chosen for the CDs accompanying the famous book. When the CDs were release in the United States they became the best-selling classical CDs at the time, with total sales exceeding 1 million copies.
Since settling in Hong Kong in 1974, Takako Nishizaki has become the best-known and best-selling performer of Chinese violin music. In addition to the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto (which she recorded seven times with Japanese and Chinese orchestras as well as with the New Zealand Symphony and the Singapore Chinese Folk Orchestra) she has performed and recorded concertos dedicated to her by Du Ming-Xin and Chen Gang. She also recorded a large number of shorter pieces with piano accompaniment but also accompanied by distinguished performers on Chinese instruments such as pipa (Chinese lute) and zheng (Chinese zither) as well as duos with Chinese er-hu (fiddle) virtuosi.
She was awarded a Golden Violin by Pacific Music in Canton in 1982 (for her work in promoting Chinese music internationally) and in 1998 received an award by the Chinese Musicians Association for her service to Chinese music (following a televised concert at the first Beijing International Music Festival).
Also in 1998, Takako Nishizaki performed the Butterfly Lovers at a Gala Concert given by the Mayor of Shanghai at the new Grand Theatre in Shanghai.
China Central Television produced several feature programmes devoted to her life and career in Chinese music, the latest in 1999.
Other Asian Repertoire
In 1982 Takako Nishizaki recorded a CD of Thai melodies with American Pianist Bruce Gaston which became the best-selling ever CD of a classical artist in Thailand.
In 2001 Takako Nishizaki was awarded the Golden Merit Award of the Republic of Austria in recognition of her service to music in general and to Austrian music in particular.
In 2003 Takako Nishizaki was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Government of Hong Kong for her service to music and her community service.
In 2005, Newsweek (Japan) named her among the 100 Japanese the world most admires.
Takako Nishizaki has taken part in numerous charity concerts in Hong Kong benefiting the following charities: Pathway Foundation, Hospital Authority Charitable Foundation, Sheen Hok Charitable Foundation, Society for Abandoned Animals, Red Cross, Rotary Club of Wanchai, Po Leung Kuk. For the past few years, she has been the spokesperson for Benji's Center.
Takako Nishizaki now lives in Hong Kong with her husband but has a second home in Auckland, New Zealand. She travels frequently and her favourite cities are Sydney, Vienna and San Francisco.
Her greatest passion after music is good food and she is herself an excellent cook. She also enjoys red wine with a preference for French and New World pinot noir.
Her only son, Henryk (named after Wieniawski) now works for the family company, HNH International Ltd., in Hong Kong.
Takako Nishizaki Violin Studio
Takako Nishizaki, Naxos' most recorded artist and one of the world's most famous violinists, has her own Violin Teaching Studio in Hong Kong. Her teaching method combines the best elements of the Suzuki Method with traditional teaching.
Takako Nishizaki Plays Suzuki Evergreens
In April of 2008, Takako Nishizaki accomplished one of her lifelong dreams, by recording all the music contained in the sheet music of the world famous Suzuki Method Books for Violin, Volumes 1 to 8. With these recordings completed, Takako Nishizaki has ensured that her legacy, and that of her father, Shinji Nishizaki, and Dr Shinichi Suzuki, will live on forever, as new generations of aspiring violinists and violin teachers, continue to choose the Suzuki Method as their method of choice.
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