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
While at Juilliard, Takako Nishizaki was awarded the Fritz Kreisler Scholarship,
established by the great violinist himself. Among her sponsors was Alice
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
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, Jeno
Jando, Wolf Harden, Alexander Zakin, Michael Ponti, Koon-Woo Paik and
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)
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
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
Takako Nishizaki has taken part in numerous charity
concerts in Hong Kong, among others for the Hong Kong Hospital Authority
and for TVB.
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
Her only son, Henryk (named after Wieniawski) now works for the family
company, HNH International Ltd., in Hong Kong.
October 23, 2005