Famed Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa has vowed to continue working until his death, despite suffering a series of health setbacks, including a cancer diagnosis in 2010.

The former musical director of the Vienna State Opera has been forced to cancel a number of performances in recent years after receiving treatment for oesophageal cancer in 2010 and back surgery in 2011.

The 78 year old was out of action for most of 2012 after a serious bout of pneumonia prompted doctors to advise him to take a year off work, but he has since bounced back, and most recently conducted Ravel opera, The Child and the Spells, at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan in September (13).

Ozawa is planning to go skiing later this month (Dec13) and will return to the Japanese stage in March (14) for a performance of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro - and he insists his career is far from over.

He tells Reuters, "I will continue doing everything I have always done - teaching and conducting orchestra until I die."