TOKYO – As a adolescent man, ambitious opera accompanist Norio Ohga wrote to Sony to accuse about the affection of its band recorders. That move afflicted the advance of his life, as the aggregation promptly recruited the man whose adulation of music would appearance the development of the bunched disc and transform the Japanese electronics maker into a all-around software and ball empire.
Sony’s admiral and administrator from 1982 to 1995, Ohga died Saturday in Tokyo of assorted agency failure, the aggregation said. He was 81.
Ohga’s affiliation to music steered his work. The baroque music adept insisted the CD be advised at 4.8 inches in bore to authority 75 account account of music — in adjustment to abundance Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in its entirety.
From the start, Ohga accustomed the abeyant of the CD’s above complete quality. In the 1970s, aback Ohga insisted CDs would eventually alter almanac albums, skeptics scoffed. Herbert von Karajan, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock batten up in aegis of Sony’s agenda sound.
Sony awash the world’s aboriginal CD in 1982 and CDs overtook LP almanac sales in Japan bristles years later. The blueprint are still acclimated today and fostered the accessories developed since.
“It is no exaggeration to aspect Sony’s change above audio and video articles into music, movies and game, and consecutive transformation into a all-around ball baton to Ohga-san’s anticipation and vision,” Sony Corp. Administrator and CEO Howard Stringer said Saturday, application the Japanese honorific.
Some decisions fabricated during Ohga’s presidency, such as the $3.4 billion acquirement of Hollywood flat Columbia Pictures, were criticized as childish and cher at the time. But Ohga’s focus on music, films and video amateur as a way to adorn the electronics business helped actualize Sony’s success in his era.
“We are consistently block afterwards things that added companies won’t touch,” Ohga said in a 1998 account with The Associated Press. “That is a big abstruse to our success.”
Shattering the average of the calm Japanese executive, the affable Ohga was never shy, his beard neatly slicked back, his bouncy address exuding the ablaze yet aboveboard air of an artist. His persona added a blow of allure to Sony’s angel at a time aback Japan had all-around ambitions.
An accomplished pilot, Ohga at times flew the even himself for business trips. A gourmet, he boasted about his buzz beef. His amusement was canoeing on his yacht.
Joey Carbone, a Los Angeles-based artisan and ambassador of dozens of Japanese pop songs, met Ohga in 1986 afterwards Carbone wrote several hits for commercials for aggregate from cassette tapes to Honda scooters on Sony’s music label.
He remembers Ohga as an outgoing, international-minded controlling who could allocution about business and a advanced array of music with according aplomb. Ohga’s appointment was covered with photos of himself with altered artists, both Japanese and international.
“He looked like an actor. He was actual outgoing,” Carbone said Saturday. “He was very, how can I say it — not introverted. He was consistently talking, consistently animated and laughing. He seemed to accept a absolute adulation of activity and music. He seemed to absolutely adulation what he was doing.”
Chairman of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orra aback 1999, he connected to conduct there a few times a year. In 1993, he conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orra at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in a alms accident adjourned by Sony.
Ohga generally compared arch a aggregation to administering an orra.
“Just as a aqueduct charge assignment to accompany out the best in the associates of his orra, a aggregation admiral charge draw on the talents of the bodies in his organization,” Ohga said in a 1996 Sony publication.
Sony started amidst the aition and abjection afterwards Apple War II and congenital itself on the acceptance of transistor radios, the Walkman, the Trinitron TV, the CD — abstraction the history of avant-garde electronics.
Ohga had accelerating from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1953 and Berlin University of the Arts in 1957. He was set to accompany a career as a baritone opera accompanist aback Sony co-founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita, absorbed by his complaints about the complete affection of Sony band recorders, recruited him to the company.
He was a Sony controlling by his 30s, a aberration in a Japanese company. He was appointed admiral of CBS Sony Records in 1970, administrator of what afterwards became Sony Corp. of America in 1988, and arch controlling of Sony in 1989. He larboard the circadian business in about 2000.
The aggregation says he was key in architecture the Sony brand, abnormally alive on design, as able-bodied as quality, to accomplish articles that looked adorable to consumers.
“Norio Ohga was a ablaze and avant-garde agent whose abstracted administration had a abstruse appulse on the way bodies acquaintance ball throughout the world,” Sony Pictures Ball Administrator and CEO Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal said in a statement.
Ohga had approved to advance a bifold activity of artisan and Sony man.
One day, he dozed off from burnout in the date wings while cat-and-mouse to go on in the “The Marriage of Figaro,” rushed in from the amiss administration and watched his ashamed co-stars airless giggles.
He gave up his opera career but still answer classical music in Japan by acknowledging adolescent musicians and concerts.
Sony has encountered adversity in contempo years, falling abaft in flat-panel TVs to rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, as able-bodied as in agenda music players to Apple Inc. It charcoal different in accepting a Hollywood studio, a music recording business, and the blockbuster PlayStation video-game assemblage that Ohga helped create, admitting critics agenda it has never absolutely accomplished the allowances of owning both electronics and ball divisions.
Ohga is survived by his wife, Midori. Sony said a clandestine deathwatch will be captivated later.
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