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Ken-ichiro Kobayashi studied composition and conducting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts). He received both the first prize and the special award at the 1st International Conductors’ Competition in Budapest.
Kobayashi has appeared in major international music festivals and held positions with many orchestras in Japan and abroad. Through activities including successful Japan tours with overseas orchestras such as the Hungarian National Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic, as well as overseas tours with the Japan Philharmonic and other Japanese orchestras, Kobayashi has made remarkable contributions to society and international exchange through culture. For these contributions, he was acknowledged by the Director of the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2011 and received the Order of the Rising Sun in 2013. He was also awarded the Liszt Memorial Decoration, the Hungarian Order of Culture, the “Middle Cross with the Star” decoration, and the title of Hungarian Cultural Ambassador from the Hungarian government.
As a composer, Kobayashi has produced numerous works. In 1999 he composed “Passacaglia,” a work for strings commissioned in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Japan. Its first performance with the Netherlands Philharmonic received an enthusiastic ovation, and it has since been performed on a variety of occasions.
Kobayashi has released numerous CDs and DVDs on Octavia Records. His books include A Conductor’s Reflections (published by Kikoshobo) and Going to an Orchestra Concert with Ken-ichiro Kobayashi (published by Junposha).
Since 2005, with his social contribution-oriented project “Kobaken and Friends,” Kobayashi has carried out charity concerts throughout Japan together with volunteer members who share his vision, including professional, amateur and student musicians. His sincere approach to music and passionate conducting style have earned him the nickname “fiery Kobaken.” One of Japan’s leading maestros, Kobayashi has appeared as guest conductor with many Japanese and overseas orchestras.
Presently Kobayashi holds positions with the Japan Philharmonic (Honorary Conductor Laureate), Hungarian National Philharmonic (Conductor Laureate), Nagoya Philharmonic (Conductor Laureate), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony (Special Guest Conductor), Gunma Symphony (Music Advisor), and Kyushu Symphony (Honorary Guest Conductor). He is also a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts and the Tokyo College of Music, honorary professor at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Music Director of Tokyo Bunka Kaikan and United Art Directors of Nagano Prefecture, and a trustee of the Rohm Music Foundation.