Originally from Hiroshima, Kazufumi Yamashita moved to Tokyo and attended the Toho Gakuen High School from the age of 16. There, he studied with Japan's best-known conductors including Tadaaki Otaka, Seiji Ozawa, and Kazuyoshi Akiyama.
At the age of 21, he won the Arts Encouragement Award in the 1984 Min-On Conducting Competition. Two years later he graduated from Toho Gakuen School of Music and immediately went on to continue his studies in Europe at Berlin Arts University. His tremendous abilities impressed not only his instructors but the surrounding music community as well, including Herbert von Karajan, whose assistant he became until Karajan passed away in 1989.
Mr. Yamashita's talents continued to be recognized in concert and in competitions alike. He won first prize at Denmark's 1986 Malko Competition for Young Conductors, drawing unanimous acclaim from music critics all over the world. In September of that same year he stepped in for Karajan to conduct a most successful performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, making an instant name for himself in music circles across Europe. He was subsequently appointed Karajan's standby at the Salzburg Whitsun Music Festival from 1986.
Besides having held the position of the Associate Conductor of NHK Symphony Orchestra (1988-1995), Mr. Yamashita was also the Principal Guest Conductor with the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (1992-1993), and between 1993-1998 took the post of Principal Guest Conductor with Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden. Together with them he programmed a well-received series of the entire symphonies of Danish composer Carl Nielsen, with concluding performances in the 1995-1996 season. In 1996, he took up the post of Regular Conductor with Kyushu Symphony Orchestra, where he remained until 1999.From 2006 he is the conductor of Sendai Philharmonic orchestra.
Mr. Yamashita continues to guest conduct various orchestras both in Japan and around the world, including the Osaka Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Malmo Symphony and the Auckland Philharmonia. His opera conducting engagements include productions such as Mozart Don Giovanni (2001 and again in 2004), Die Zauberfloete (2002), and Le Nozze di Figaro (2003) and Berg's Wozzeck (2004).