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Toru Takemitsu

toru takemitsu, toru takemitsu 12 songs for guitar
Toru Takemitsu 武満 徹, Takemitsu Tōru, October 8, 1930 – February 20, 1996 pronounced takeꜜmʲitsɯ̥ toːɾɯ̥ was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory Largely self-taught, Takemitsu possessed consummate skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre12 He is famed for combining elements of oriental and occident philosophy to create a sound uniquely his own, and for fusing opposites together such as sound with silence and tradition with innovation3

He composed several hundred independent works of music, scored more than ninety films and published twenty books3 He was also a founding member of the Jikken Kobo experimental workshop in Japan, a group of avant-garde artists who distanced themselves from academia and whose collaborative work is often regarded among the most influential of the 20th century45

His 1957 Requiem for string orchestra attracted international attention, led to several commissions from across the world and established his reputation as one of the leading 20th-century Japanese composers6 He was the recipient of numerous awards and honours789 and the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award is named after him10

Contents

  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Youth
    • 12 Early development and Jikken Kōbō
    • 13 Influence of Cage; interest in traditional Japanese music
    • 14 International status and the gradual shift in style
    • 15 Later works: the sea of tonality
    • 16 Legacy
  • 2 Music
    • 21 Influence of traditional Japanese music
    • 22 Influence of Messiaen
    • 23 Influence of Debussy
    • 24 Motives
    • 25 Musique concrète
    • 26 Aleatory techniques
    • 27 Film music
  • 3 Awards
  • 4 Notable compositions
  • 5 Literary works
  • 6 Listening
  • 7 Notes and references
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links

Biographyedit

Youthedit

Takemitsu was born in Tokyo on October 8, 1930; a month later his family moved to Dalian in the Chinese province of Liaoning In 1938 he returned to Japan to attend elementary school, but his education was cut short by military conscription in 19442 Takemitsu described his experience of military service at such a young age, under the Japanese Nationalist government, as " extremely bitter"11 Takemitsu first became really conscious of Western classical music during his term of military service, in the form of a popular French Song "Parlez-moi d'amour" which he listened to with colleagues in secret, played on a gramophone with a makeshift needle fashioned from bamboo1112

During the post-war US occupation of Japan, Takemitsu worked for the US Armed Forces, but was ill for a long period Hospitalised and bed-ridden, he took the opportunity to listen to as much Western music as he could on the US Armed Forces network While deeply affected by these experiences of Western music, he simultaneously felt a need to distance himself from the traditional music of his native Japan He explained much later, in a lecture at the New York International Festival of the Arts, that for him Japanese traditional music "always recalled the bitter memories of war"11

Despite his almost complete lack of musical training, and taking inspiration from what little Western music he had heard, Takemitsu began to compose in earnest at the age of 16: " I began writing music attracted to music itself as one human being Being in music I found my raison d'être as a man After the war, music was the only thing Choosing to be in music clarified my identity"13 Though he studied briefly with Yasuji Kiyose beginning in 1948, Takemitsu remained largely self-taught throughout his musical career2

Early development and Jikken Kōbōedit

In 1948, Takemitsu conceived the idea of electronic music technology, or in his own words, to "bring noise into tempered musical tones inside a busy small tube" During the 1950s, Takemitsu had learned that in 1948 "a French engineer Pierre Schaeffer invented the methods of musique concrète based on the same idea as mine I was pleased with this coincidence"1415

In 1951, Takemitsu was a founding member of the anti-academic Jikken Kōbō 実験工房, "experimental workshop": an artistic group established for multidisciplinary collaboration on mixed-media projects, who sought to avoid Japanese artistic tradition16 The performances and works undertaken by the group introduced several contemporary Western composers to Japanese audiences217 During this period he wrote Saegirarenai Kyūsoku I "Uninterrupted Rest I", 1952: a piano work, without a regular rhythmic pulse or barlines; and by 1955 Takemitsu had begun to use electronic tape-recording techniques in such works as Relief Statique 1955 and Vocalism A·I 19562 Takemitsu also studied in the early 1950s with the composer Fumio Hayasaka, perhaps best known for the scores he wrote for films by Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, the latter of whom Takemitsu would collaborate with decades later

In the late 1950s chance brought Takemitsu international attention: his Requiem for string orchestra 1957  listen , written as an homage to Hayasaka, was heard by Igor Stravinsky in 1958 during his visit to Japan The NHK had organised opportunities for Stravinsky to listen to some of the latest Japanese music; when Takemitsu's work was put on by mistake, Stravinsky insisted on hearing it to the end At a press conference later, Stravinsky expressed his admiration for the work, praising its "sincerity" and "passionate" writing18 Stravinsky subsequently invited Takemitsu to lunch; and for Takemitsu this was an "unforgettable" experience19 After Stravinsky returned to the US, Takemitsu soon received a commission for a new work from the Koussevitsky Foundation which, he assumed, had come as a suggestion from Stravinsky to Aaron Copland19 For this he composed Dorian Horizon, 1966, which was premièred by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Copland19

Influence of Cage; interest in traditional Japanese musicedit

During his time with Jikken Kōbō, Takemitsu came into contact with the experimental work of John Cage; but when the composer Toshi Ichiyanagi returned from his studies in America in 1961, he gave the first Japanese performance of Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra This left a "deep impression" on Takemitsu: he recalled the impact of hearing the work when writing an obituary for Cage, 31 years later20 This encouraged Takemitsu in his use of indeterminate procedures and graphic-score notation, for example in the graphic scores of Ring 1961, Corona for pianists and Corona II for strings both 1962 In these works each performer is presented with cards printed with coloured circular patterns which are freely arranged by the performer to create "the score"21

Although the immediate influence of Cage's procedures did not last in Takemitsu's music—Coral Island, for example for soprano and orchestra 1962 shows significant departures from indeterminate procedures partly as a result of Takemitsu's renewed interest in the music of Anton Webern—certain similarities between Cage's philosophies and Takemitsu's thought remained For example, Cage's emphasis on timbres within individual sound-events, and his notion of silence "as plenum rather than vacuum", can be aligned with Takemitsu's interest in ma22 Furthermore, Cage's interest in Zen practice through his contact with Zen scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki seems to have resulted in a renewed interest in the East in general, and ultimately alerted Takemitsu to the potential for incorporating elements drawn from Japanese traditional music into his composition:

I must express my deep and sincere gratitude to John Cage The reason for this is that in my own life, in my own development, for a long period I struggled to avoid being "Japanese", to avoid "Japanese" qualities It was largely through my contact with John Cage that I came to recognize the value of my own tradition11

For Takemitsu, as he explained later in a lecture in 1988, one performance of Japanese traditional music stood out:

One day I chanced to see a performance of the Bunraku puppet theater and was very surprised by it It was in the tone quality, the timbre, of the futazao shamisen, the wide-necked shamisen used in Bunraku, that I first recognized the splendor of traditional Japanese music I was very moved by it and I wondered why my attention had never been captured before by this Japanese music11

Thereafter, he resolved to study all types of traditional Japanese music, paying special attention to the differences between the two very different musical traditions, in a diligent attempt to "bring forth the sensibilities of Japanese music that had always been within him"11 This was no easy task, since in the years following the war traditional music was largely overlooked and ignored: only one or two "masters" continued to keep their art alive, often meeting with public indifference In conservatoria across the country, even students of traditional instruments were always required to learn the piano23

From the early 1960s, Takemitsu began to make use of traditional Japanese instruments in his music, and even took up playing the biwa—an instrument he used in his score for the film Seppuku 19622 In 1967, Takemitsu received a commission from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to commemorate the orchestra's 125th anniversary, for which he wrote November Steps for biwa, shakuhachi, and orchestra Initially, Takemitsu had great difficulty in uniting these instruments from such different musical cultures in one work11 Eclipse for biwa and shakuhachi 1966 illustrates Takemitsu's attempts to find a viable notational system for these instruments, which in normal circumstances neither sound together nor are used in works notated in any system of Western staff notation24

The first performance of November Steps was given in 1967, under Seiji Ozawa Despite the trials of writing such an ambitious work, Takemitsu maintained "that making the attempt was very worthwhile because what resulted somehow liberated music from a certain stagnation and brought to music something distinctly new and different"11 The work was distributed widely in the West when it was coupled as the fourth side of an LP release of Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony25

In 1972, Takemitsu, accompanied by Iannis Xenakis, Betsy Jolas, and others, heard Balinese gamelan music in Bali The experience influenced the composer on a largely philosophical and theological level For those accompanying Takemitsu on the expedition most of whom were French musicians, who " could not keep their composure as I did before this music: it was too foreign for them to be able to assess the resulting discrepancies with their logic", the experience was without precedent For Takemitsu, however, by now quite familiar with his own native musical tradition, there was a relationship between "the sounds of the gamelan, the tone of the kapachi, the unique scales and rhythms by which they are formed, and Japanese traditional music which had shaped such a large part of my sensitivity"26 In his solo piano work For Away written for Roger Woodward in 1973, a single, complex line is distributed between the pianist's hands, which reflects the interlocking patterns between the metallophones of a gamelan orchestra27

A year later, Takemitsu returned to the instrumental combination of shakuhachi, biwa, and orchestra, in the less well known work Autumn 1973 The significance of this work is revealed in its far greater integration of the traditional Japanese instruments into the orchestral discourse; whereas in November Steps, the two contrasting instrumental ensembles perform largely in alternation, with only a few moments of contact Takemitsu expressed this change in attitude:

But now my attitude is getting to be a little different, I think Now my concern is mostly to find out what there is in common  Autumn was written after November Steps I really wanted to do something which I hadn't done in November Steps, not to blend the instruments, but to integrate them28

International status and the gradual shift in styleedit

By 1970, Takemitsu's reputation as a leading member of avant-garde community was well established, and during his involvement with Expo '70 in Osaka, he was at last able to meet more of his Western colleagues, including Karlheinz Stockhausen Also, during a contemporary music festival in April 1970, produced by the Japanese composer himself "Iron and Steel Pavilion", Takemitsu met among the participants Lukas Foss, Peter Sculthorpe, and Vinko Globokar Later that year, as part of a commission from Paul Sacher and the Zurich Collegium Musicum, Takemitsu incorporated into his Eucalypts I parts for international performers: flautist Aurèle Nicolet, oboist Heinz Holliger, and harpist Ursula Holliger29

Critical examination of the complex instrumental works written during this period for the new generation of "contemporary soloists" reveals the level of his high-profile engagement with the Western avant-garde, in works such as Voice for solo flute 1971, Waves for clarinet, horn, two trombones and bass drum 1976, Quatrain for clarinet, violin, cello, piano and orchestra 1977 Experiments and works that incorporated traditional Japanese musical ideas and language continued to appear in his output, and an increased interest in the traditional Japanese garden began to reflect itself in works such as In an Autumn Garden for gagaku orchestra 1973, and A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden for orchestra 197730

Throughout this apogee of avant-garde work, Takemitsu's musical style seems to have undergone a series of stylistic changes Comparison of Green for orchestra, 1967 and A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden 1977 quickly reveals the seeds of this change The latter was composed according to a pre-compositional scheme, in which pentatonic modes were superimposed over one central pentatonic scale the so-called "black-key pentatonic" around a central sustained central pitch F-sharp, and an approach that is highly indicative of the sort of "pantonal" and modal pitch material seen gradually emerging in his works throughout the 1970s31 The former, Green or November Steps II written 10 years earlier, is heavily influenced by Debussy,3233 and is, in spite of its very dissonant language including momentary quarter-tone clusters, largely constructed through a complex web of modal forms These modal forms are largely audible, particularly in the momentary repose toward the end of the work34 Thus in these works, it is possible to see both a continuity of approach, and the emergence of a simpler harmonic language that was to characterise the work of his later period

His friend and colleague Jō Kondō said, "If his later works sound different from earlier pieces, it is due to his gradual refining of his basic style rather than any real alteration of it"35

Later works: the sea of tonalityedit

In a Tokyo lecture given in 1984, Takemitsu identified a melodic motive in his Far Calls Coming Far! for violin and orchestra, 1980 that would recur throughout his later works:

I wanted to plan a tonal "sea" Here the "sea" is E-flat Es in German nomenclature-E-A, a three-note ascending motive consisting of a half step and perfect fourth In Far Calls this is extended upward from A with two major thirds and one minor third  Using these patterns I set the "sea of tonality" from which many pantonal chords flow36

Takemitsu's words here highlight his changing stylistic trends from the late 1970s into the 1980s, which have been described as "an increased use of diatonic material  with references to tertian harmony and jazz voicing", which do not, however, project a sense of "large-scale tonality"37 Many of the works from this period have titles that include a reference to water: Toward the Sea 1981, Rain Tree and Rain Coming 1982, riverrun and I Hear the Water Dreaming 1987 Takemitsu wrote in his notes for the score of Rain Coming that " the complete collection is entitled "Waterscape" it was the composer's intention to create a series of works, which like their subject, pass through various metamorphoses, culminating in a sea of tonality"38 Throughout these works, the S-E-A motive discussed further below features prominently, and points to an increased emphasis on the melodic element in Takemitsu's music that began during this later period

His 1981 work for orchestra named Dreamtime was inspired by a visit to Groote Eylandt, off the coast of the Northern Territory of Australia, to witness a large gathering of Australian indigenous dancers, singers and story tellers He was there at the invitation of the choreographer Jiří Kylián39

Pedal notes played an increasingly prominent role in Takemitsu's music during this period, as in A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden In Dream/Window, orchestra, 1985 a pedal D serves as anchor point, holding together statements of a striking four-note motivic gesture which recurs in various instrumental and rhythmic guises throughout Very occasionally, fully fledged references to diatonic tonality can be found, often in harmonic allusions to early- and pre-20th-century composers—for example, Folios for guitar 1974, which quotes from J S Bach's St Matthew Passion, and Family Tree for narrator and orchestra 1984, which invokes the musical language of Maurice Ravel and American popular song2 He revered the St Matthew Passion, and would play through it on the piano before commencing a new work, as a form of "purificatory ritual"40

By this time, Takemitsu's incorporation of traditional Japanese and other Eastern musical traditions with his Western style had become much more integrated Takemitsu commented, "There is no doubt  the various countries and cultures of the world have begun a journey toward the geographic and historic unity of all peoples  The old and new exist within me with equal weight"41

Toward the end of his life, Takemitsu had planned to complete an opera, a collaboration with the novelist Barry Gifford and the director Daniel Schmid, commissioned by the Opéra National de Lyon in France He was in the process of publishing a plan of its musical and dramatic structure with Kenzaburō Ōe, but he was prevented from completing it by his death at 654243 He died of pneumonia on February 20, 1996, while undergoing treatment for bladder cancer

Legacyedit

In a memorial issue of Contemporary Music Review, Jō Kondō wrote, "Needless to say, Takemitsu is among the most important composers in Japanese music history He was also the first Japanese composer fully recognized in the west, and remained the guiding light for the younger generations of Japanese composers"35

Composer Peter Lieberson shared the following in his program note to the Ocean that has no East and West, written in memory of Takemitsu: "I spent the most time with Toru in Tokyo when I was invited to be a guest composer at his Music Today Festival in 1987 Peter Serkin and composer Oliver Knussen were also there, as was cellist Fred Sherry Though he was the senior of our group by many years, Toru stayed up with us every night and literally drank us under the table I was confirmed in my impression of Toru as a person who lived his life like a traditional Zen poet"44

In the foreword to a selection of Takemitsu's writings in English, conductor Seiji Ozawa writes: "I am very proud of my friend Toru Takemitsu He is the first Japanese composer to write for a world audience and achieve international recognition"45

Musicedit

Composers whom Takemitsu cited as influential in his early work include Claude Debussy, Anton Webern, Edgard Varèse, Arnold Schoenberg, and Olivier Messiaen46 Messiaen was introduced to him by fellow composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, and remained a lifelong influence2 Although Takemitsu's wartime experiences of nationalism initially discouraged him from cultivating an interest in traditional Japanese music, he showed an early interest in " the Japanese Garden in color spacing and form " The formal garden of the kaiyu-shiki interested him in particular1147

He expressed his unusual stance toward compositional theory early on, his lack of respect for the "trite rules of music, rules that are  stifled by formulas and calculations"; for Takemitsu it was of far greater importance that "sounds have the freedom to breathe  Just as one cannot plan his life, neither can he plan music"48

Takemitsu's sensitivity to instrumental and orchestral timbre can be heard throughout his work, and is often made apparent by the unusual instrumental combinations he specified This is evident in works such as November Steps, that combine traditional Japanese instruments, shakuhachi and biwa, with a conventional Western orchestra It may also be discerned in his works for ensembles that make no use of traditional instruments, for example Quotation of Dream 1991, Archipelago S, for 21 players 1993, and Arc I & II 1963–66/1976 In these works, the more conventional orchestral forces are divided into unconventional "groups" Even where these instrumental combinations were determined by the particular ensemble commissioning the work, "Takemitsu's genius for instrumentation and genius it was, in my view ", in the words of Oliver Knussen, " creates the illusion that the instrumental restrictions are self-imposed"49

Influence of traditional Japanese musicedit

Example 1 Bar 10 of Masque I, Continu, for two flutes 1959 An early example of Takemitsu's incorporation of traditional Japanese music in his writing, shown in the unusually notated quarter-tone pitch bend above

Takemitsu summed up his initial aversion to Japanese and all non-Western traditional musical forms in his own words: "There may be folk music with strength and beauty, but I cannot be completely honest in this kind of music I want a more active relationship to the present Folk music in a 'contemporary style' is nothing but a deception"50 His dislike for the music traditions of his own country in particular were intensified by his experiences of the war, during which Japanese music became associated with militaristic and nationalistic cultural ideals51

Nevertheless, Takemitsu incorporated some idiomatic elements of Japanese music in his very earliest works, perhaps unconsciously One unpublished set of pieces, Kakehi "Conduit", written at the age of 17, incorporates the ryō, ritsu and insen scales throughout When Takemitsu discovered that these "nationalist" elements had somehow found their way into his music, he was so alarmed that he later destroyed the works52 Further examples can be seen for example in the quarter-tone glissandi of Masques I for two flutes, 1959, which mirror the characteristic pitch bends of the shakuhachi, and for which he devised his own unique notation: a held note is tied to an enharmonic spelling of the same pitch class, with a portamento direction across the tie53

Example 2 Opening bars of Litany—In Memory of Michael Vyner, i Adagio, for solo piano 1950/1989 Another early example of Takemitsu's incorporation of traditional Japanese music in his writing, shown here in the use of the Japanese in scale in the upper melodic line of the right hand part Listen

Other Japanese characteristics, including the further use of traditional pentatonic scales, continued to crop up elsewhere in his early works In the opening bars of Litany, for Michael Vyner first movement, a reconstruction from memory by Takemitsu of Lento in Due Movimenti 1950; the original score was lost, pentatonicism is clearly visible in the upper voice, which opens the work on an unaccompanied anacrusis54 The pitches of the opening melody combine to form the constituent notes of the ascending form of the Japanese in scale

When, from the early 1960s,2 Takemitsu began to "consciously apprehend" the sounds of traditional Japanese music, he found that his creative process, "the logic of my compositional thought, was torn apart", and nevertheless, "hogaku traditional Japanese music  seized my heart and refuses to release it"55 In particular, Takemitsu perceived that, for example, the sound of a single stroke of the biwa or single pitch breathed through the shakuhachi, could "so transport our reason because they are of extreme complexity  already complete in themselves" This fascination with the sounds produced in traditional Japanese music brought Takemitsu to his idea of ma usually translated as the space between two objects,56 which ultimately informed his understanding of the intense quality of traditional Japanese music as a whole:

Just one sound can be complete in itself, for its complexity lies in the formulation of ma, an unquantifiable metaphysical space duration of dynamically tensed absence of sound For example, in the performance of nō, the ma of sound and silence does not have an organic relation for the purpose of artistic expression Rather, these two elements contrast sharply with one another in an immaterial balance57

In 1970, Takemitsu received a commission from the National Theatre of Japan to write a work for the gagaku ensemble of the Imperial Household; this was fulfilled in 1973, when he completed Shuteiga "In an Autumn Garden", although he later incorporated the work, as the fourth movement, into his 50-minute-long "In an Autumn Garden—Complete Version"58 As well as being " the furthest removed from the West of any work he had written",59 While it introduces certain Western musical ideas to the Japanese court ensemble, the work represents the deepest of Takemitsu's investigations into Japanese musical tradition, the lasting effects of which are clearly reflected in his works for conventional Western ensemble formats that followed60

Example 3 Standard chords produced by the shō, mouth organ of the traditional Japanese court ensemble, gagaku

In Garden Rain 1974, for brass ensemble, the limited and pitch-specific harmonic vocabulary of the Japanese mouth organ, the shō see ex 3, and its specific timbres, are clearly emulated in Takemitsu's writing for brass instruments; even similarities of performance practice can be seen, the players are often required to hold notes to the limit of their breath capacity61 In A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, the characteristic timbres of the shō and its chords several of which are simultaneous soundings of traditional Japanese pentatonic scales are emulated in the opening held chords of the wind instruments the first chord is in fact an exact transposition of the shō's chord, Jū i; see ex 3; meanwhile a solo oboe is assigned a melodic line that is similarly reminiscent of the lines played by the hichiriki in gagaku ensembles62

Influence of Messiaenedit

Example 4 Comparison of ex94 from Olivier Messiaen's Technique de mon langage musical and one of the principal motives from Takemitsu's Quatrain 197563

The influence of Olivier Messiaen on Takemitsu was already apparent in some of Takemitsu's earliest published works By the time he composed Lento in Due Movimenti, 1950, Takemitsu had already come into possession of a copy of Messiaen's 8 Préludes through Toshi Ichiyanagi, and the influence of Messiaen is clearly visible in the work, in the use of modes, the suspension of regular metre, and sensitivity to timbre264 Throughout his career Takemitsu often made use of modes from which he derived his musical material, both melodic and harmonic among which Messiaen's modes of limited transposition to appear with some frequency65 In particular, the use of the octatonic, mode II, or the 8–28 collection, and mode VI 8–25 is particularly common However, Takemitsu pointed out that he had used the octatonic collection in his music before ever coming across it in Messiaen's music66

In 1975, Takemitsu met Messiaen in New York, and during "what was to be a one-hour 'lesson' but which lasted three hours  Messiaen played his Quartet for the End of Time for Takemitsu at the piano",67 which, Takemitsu recalled, was like listening to an orchestral performance68 Takemitsu responded to this with his homage to the French composer, Quatrain, for which he asked Messiaen's permission to use the same instrumental combination for the main quartet, cello, violin, clarinet and piano which is accompanied by orchestra69 As well as the obvious similarity of instrumentation, Takemitsu employs several melodic figures that appear to "mimic" certain musical examples given by Messiaen in his Technique de mon langage musical, see ex 463 In 1977, Takemitsu reworked Quatrain for quartet alone, without orchestra, and titled the new work Quatrain II

On hearing of Messiaen's death in 1992, Takemitsu was interviewed by telephone, and still in shock, "blurted out, 'His death leaves a crisis in contemporary music!' " Then later, in an obituary written for the French composer in the same year, Takemitsu further expressed his sense of loss at Messiaen's death: "Truly, he was my spiritual mentor  Among the many things I learned from his music, the concept and experience of color and the form of time will be unforgettable"68 The composition Rain Tree Sketch II, which was to be Takemitsu's final piano piece, was also written that year and subtitled "In Memoriam Olivier Messiaen"

Influence of Debussyedit

Takemitsu frequently expressed his indebtedness to Claude Debussy, referring to the French composer as his "great mentor"70 As Arnold Whittall puts it:

Given the enthusiasm for the exotic and the Orient in these Debussy and Messiaen and other French composers, it is understandable that Takemitsu should have been attracted to the expressive and formal qualities of music in which flexibility of rhythm and richness of harmony count for so much71

For Takemitsu, Debussy's "greatest contribution was his unique orchestration which emphasizes colour, light and shadow  the orchestration of Debussy has many musical focuses" He was fully aware of Debussy's own interest in Japanese art, the cover of the first edition of La mer, for example, was famously adorned by Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa72 For Takemitsu, this interest in Japanese culture, combined with his unique personality, and perhaps most importantly, his lineage as a composer of the French musical tradition running from Rameau and Lully through Berlioz in which colour is given special attention, gave Debussy his unique style and sense of orchestration73

During the composition of Green November Steps II, for orchestra, 1967: "steeped in the sound-color world of the orchestral music of Claude Debussy"74 Takemitsu said he had taken the scores of Debussy's Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un Faune and Jeux to the mountain villa where both this work and November Steps I were composed For Oliver Knussen, "the final appearance of the main theme irresistibly prompts the thought that Takemitsu may, quite unconsciously, have been attempting a latterday Japanese Après-midi d'un Faune"75 Details of orchestration in Green, such as the prominent use of antique cymbals, and tremolandi harmonies in the strings, clearly point to the influence of Takemitsu's compositional mentor, and of these works in particular76

In Quotation of Dream 1991, direct quotations from Debussy's La Mer and Takemitsu's earlier works relating to the sea are incorporated into the musical flow "stylistic jolts were not intended", depicting the landscape outside the Japanese garden of his own music77

Motivesedit

Several recurring musical motives can be heard in Takemitsu's works In particular the pitch motive E♭-E-A can be heard in many of his later works, whose titles refer to water in some form Toward the Sea, 1981; Rain Tree Sketch, 1982; I Hear the Water Dreaming, 1987

Example 5 Various examples of Takemitsu's S-E-A motive, derived from the German spelling of the notes E♭, E, A "Es-E-A"

When spelt in German Es-E-A, the motive can be seen as a musical "transliteration" of the word "sea" Takemitsu used this motive usually transposed to indicate the presence of water in his "musical landscapes", even in works whose titles do not directly refer to water, such as A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden 1977; see ex 578

Musique concrèteedit

During Takemitsu's years as a member of the Jikken Kōbō, he experimented with compositions of musique concrète and a very limited amount of electronic music, the most notable example being Stanza II for harp and tape written later in 197279 In Water Music 1960  listen , Takemitsu's source material consisted entirely of sounds produced by droplets of water His manipulation of these sounds, through the use of highly percussive envelopes, often results in a resemblance to traditional Japanese instruments, such as the tsuzumi and nō ensembles80

Aleatory techniquesedit

One aspect of John Cage's compositional procedure that Takemitsu continued to use throughout his career, was the use of indeterminacy, in which performers are given a degree of choice in what to perform As mentioned previously, this was particularly used in works such as November Steps, in which musicians playing traditional Japanese instruments were able to play in an orchestral setting with a certain degree of improvisational freedom24 However, he also employed a technique that is sometimes called "aleatory counterpoint"81 in his well-known orchestral work A Flock Descends Into the Pentagonal Garden 1977, at J in the score  listen ,82 and in the score of Arc II: i Textures 1964 for piano and orchestra, in which sections of the orchestra are divided into groups, and required to repeat short passages of music at will In these passages the overall sequence of events is, however, controlled by the conductor, who is instructed about the approximate durations for each section, and who indicates to the orchestra when to move from one section to next The technique is commonly found in the work of Witold Lutosławski, who pioneered it in his Jeux vénitiens81

Film musicedit

Takemitsu's contribution to film music was considerable; in under 40 years he composed music for over 100 films,83 some of which were written for purely financial reasons such as those written for Noboru Nakamura However, as the composer attained financial independence, he grew more selective, often reading whole scripts before agreeing to compose the music, and later surveying the action on set, "breathing the atmosphere" whilst conceiving his musical ideas84 One notable consideration in Takemitsu's composition for film was his careful use of silence also important in many of his concert works, which often immediately intensifies the events on screen, and prevents any monotony through a continuous musical accompaniment For the first battle scene of Akira Kurosawa's Ran, Takemitsu provided an extended passage of intense elegiac quality that halts at the sound of a single gunshot, leaving the audience with the pure "sounds of battle: cries screams and neighing horses"85

Takemitsu attached the greatest importance to the director's conception of the film; in an interview with Max Tessier, he explained that, "everything depends on the film itself  I try to concentrate as much as possible on the subject, so that I can express what the director feels himself I try to extend his feelings with my music"86

Awardsedit

Takemitsu won awards for composition, both in Japan and abroad, including the Prix Italia for his orchestral work Tableau noir in 1958, the Otaka Prize in 1976 and 1981, the Los Angeles Film Critics Award in 1987 for the film score Ran and the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1994 for Fantasma/Cantos2 In Japan, he received the Film Awards of the Japanese Academy for outstanding achievement in music, for soundtracks to the following films:

  • 1979 Ai no borei 愛の亡霊
  • 1986 Ran 乱
  • 1990 Rikyu 利休
  • 1996 Sharaku 写楽

He was also invited to attend numerous international festivals throughout his career, and presented lectures and talks at academic institutions across the world He was made an honorary member of the Akademie der Künste of the DDR in 1979, and the American Institute of Arts and Letters in 1985 He was admitted to the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1985, and the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1986 He was the recipient of the 22nd Suntory Music Award 1990 Takemitsu was posthumously awarded the fourth Glenn Gould Prize in Autumn, 1996

The Toru Takemitsu Composition Award, intended to "encourage a younger generation of composers who will shape the coming age through their new musical works", is named after him10

Notable compositionsedit

Further information: List of compositions by Tōru Takemitsu

Literary worksedit

  • Takemitsu, Toru 1995 Confronting Silence Fallen Leaf Press ISBN 0-914913-36-0 
  • Takemitsu, Toru, with Cronin, Tania and Tann, Hilary, "Afterword", Perspectives of New Music, vol 27, no 2 Summer, 1989, 205–214, subscription access JSTOR 833411
  • Takemitsu, Tōru, trans Adachi, Sumi with Reynolds, Roger, "Mirrors", Perspectives of New Music, vol 30 no 1 Winter, 1992, 36–80, subscription access JSTOR 833284
  • Takemitsu, Toru, trans Hugh de Ferranti "One Sound", Contemporary Music Review, vol 8, part 2, Harwood, 1994, 3–4, subscription access doi:101080/07494469400640021
  • Takemitsu, Tōru, "Contemporary Music in Japan", Perspectives of New Music, vol 27 no 2 Summer, 1989, 198–204 subscription access JSTOR 833410

Listeningedit

  • Toru Takemitsu : Air, John McMurtery, flute
  • Toru Takemitsu : Voice, John McMurtery, flute
  • Toru Takemitsu : Guitar, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, guitar

Notes and referencesedit

  1. ^ McKenzie, Don, "Review: Untitled Reviewed Works: To the Edge of Dream, for Guitar and Orchestra", Notes, 2nd Ser, vol 46, no 1 Music Library Association, Sep, 1989, 230
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Narazaki, Yoko; Kanazawa Masakata "Takemitsu, Toru" In L Root, Deane Grove Music Online Oxford Music Online Oxford University Press  subscription required
  3. ^ a b Coburn, Steven "Toru Takemitsu, Artist Biography" 
  4. ^ Erickson, Matthew 11 December 2015 "The riotous inventiveness of Takehisa Kosugi" Friezecom 
  5. ^ Kaneda, Miki 2007-12-20 "Electroacoustic Music in Japan: The Persistence of the DIY Model" University of California at Berkeley 
  6. ^ "Takemitsu, Toru", The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, Ed Michael Kennedy, Oxford, 1996, Oxford Reference Online, Oxford University Press accessed 16 March 2007 1 subscription access
  7. ^ Burt, Takemitsu's Works, "The Music of Toru Takemitsu", 277–280
  8. ^ Wilson, Charles, "Review: Peter Burt, The Music of Toru Takemitsu", Music Analysis, 23/i Oxford: 2004, 130
  9. ^ Burton, Anthony, "Takemitsu, Tōru", The Oxford Companion to Music, Ed Alison Latham, Oxford University Press, 2002, Oxford Reference Online, accessed 2 April 2007 2 subscription access
  10. ^ a b "Toru Takemitsu Composition Award" Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Takemitsu, Tōru, "Contemporary Music in Japan", Perspectives of New Music, vol 27, no 2, Summer 1989, 3
  12. ^ Kanazawa, Masakata "Japan, §IX, 2i: Music in the period of Westernization: Western music and Japan up to 1945" In L Root, Deane Grove Music Online Oxford Music Online Oxford University Press  subscription required
  13. ^ Quoted in Ohtake, Noriko, "Creative Sources for the Music of Toru Takemitsu", Scolar, Cambridge, 1993, 3
  14. ^ Fujii, Koichi 2004 "Chronology of early electroacoustic music in Japan: What types of source materials are available" Organised Sound Cambridge University Press 9 1: 63–77 64–6 doi:101017/S1355771804000093 
  15. ^ Thom Holmes 2008, "Early Electronic Music in Japan", Electronic and experimental music: technology, music, and culture 3rd ed, Taylor & Francis, p 106, ISBN 0-415-95781-8, retrieved 2011-06-04 
  16. ^ Schlüren, Christoph, "Review: Peter Burt, 'The Music of Toru Takemitsu' Cambridge 2001", Tempo no 57, Cambridge, 2003, 65
  17. ^ "Takemitsu, Toru", Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music, ed Oxford 2004, 722, ISBN 978-0-19-860884-4
  18. ^ Burt, 71
  19. ^ a b c Takemitsu, Tōru with Tania Cronin and Hilary Tann, "Afterword", Perspectives of New Music, vol 27 no 2 Summer 1989, 205–207
  20. ^ Burt, 92
  21. ^ Burt, 94
  22. ^ See Burt, 96 and Takemitsu, "Afterword", 212
  23. ^ Smaldone, Edward, "Japanese and Western Confluences in Large-Scale Pitch Organization of Tōru Takemitsu's November Steps and Autumn", Perspectives of New Music, vol 27 no2 Summer, 1989, 217
  24. ^ a b Burt, 112
  25. ^ Burt, 111
  26. ^ Takemitsu, Mirrors, 69–70
  27. ^ Burt, 128–9
  28. ^ Takemitsu, "Afterword", 210
  29. ^ Burt, 132–33
  30. ^ Burt, 133 and 160
  31. ^ Burt, 170
  32. ^ Takemitsu, "Notes on November Steps", Confronting Silence, 83
  33. ^ Anderson, Julian, Liner Notes to Toru Takemitsu, Arc/Green, performed by London Sinfonietta/Oliver Knussen/Rolf Hind, SINF CD3-2006
  34. ^ Burt, 118–124
  35. ^ a b Kondō, Jō "Introduction: Tōru Takemitsu as I remember him", Contemporary Music Review, Vol 21, Iss 4, December 2002, 1–3
  36. ^ Takemitsu, "Dream and Number", Confronting Silence, 112
  37. ^ Koozin, Timothy, "Traversing distances: pitch organization, gesture and imagery in the late works of Tōru Takemitsu", Contemporary Music Review, Volume 21, Issue 4 Routledge, December 2002, 22
  38. ^ Preface to score of Rain Coming 1982, quoted in Burt, 176
  39. ^ jirikyliancom; Retrieved 6 April 2013
  40. ^ Peter Burt, The Music of Toru Takemitsu, p 153Retrieved 4 August 2014
  41. ^ Takemitsu, "Mirror and Egg", Confronting Silence, 91 and 96
  42. ^ Kozin, Allan "Toru Takemitsu, 65, Introspective Composer Whose Music Evokes East and West, Is Dead", The New York Times New York, February 21, 1996
  43. ^ Untranslated Tōru Takemitsu and Kenzaburo Oe, Opera wo tsukuru, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1990
  44. ^ Schirmer Website Composer Profile
  45. ^ Takemitsu, Tōru, "Foreword", Confronting Silence, California, 1995, vii
  46. ^ Koozin, Timothy, "Octatonicism in Recent Solo Piano Works of Tōru Takemitsu", Perspectives of New Music, Vol 29, No 1 Winter, 1991, 124
  47. ^ Anderson, i
  48. ^ Takemitsu, "Nature and Music", Confronting Silence, 5
  49. ^ Knussen, Oliver, Liner notes to Takemitsu: Quotation of Dream, performed by Paul Crossley/Peter Serkin/London Sinfonietta/Oliver Knussen, Deutsche Grammophon: Echo 20/21 453 495–2
  50. ^ Takemitsu, "Nature and Music", Confronting Silence, 4
  51. ^ Burt, 22
  52. ^ Burt, 24
  53. ^ Burt, 62
  54. ^ Burt, 31 and 272
  55. ^ Takemitsu, Tōru, "One Sound", Contemporary Music Review vol 8, part 2,, trans Hugh de Ferranti, Harwood, 1994, 3–4
  56. ^ Day, Andrea, "Ma", Buildings & Cities in Japanese History, Columbia University Website, accessed 31 May 2007 3
  57. ^ Takemitsu, "One Sound", 4
  58. ^ Burt, 160–161
  59. ^ Poirer, Alain, Tōru Takemitsu, Paris, 1996, 67–68
  60. ^ Burt, 166–174
  61. ^ Burt, 167 and Nuss, Steven, "Looking Forward, looking back: Influences of the Gagaku Tradition in the Music of Toru Takemitsu", Music of Japan Today: Tradition and Innovation, lecture transcribed by E Michael Richards, 1992 "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2007-02-08 Retrieved 2007-06-02 
  62. ^ Burt, 173–174
  63. ^ a b Burt, 155–156
  64. ^ Burt, 31
  65. ^ See for example Burt, 34
  66. ^ Koozin, "Octatonicism in the Recent Piano Works of Tōru Takemitsu", 125
  67. ^ Koozin, "Octatonicism in the Recent Solo Piano Works of Tōru Takemitsu", 125
  68. ^ a b Takemitsu, Tōru, "The Passing of Nono, Feldman and Messiaen", Confronting Silence—Selected Writings, trans/ed Yoshiko Kakudo and Glen Glasgow, Berkeley, 1995, 139–141
  69. ^ Burt, 154 and Koozin, "Octatonicism in the Recent Solo Piano Works of Tōru Takemitsu", 125
  70. ^ Takemitsu, Confronting Silence, 36–38
  71. ^ Whittall, Arnold, Liner notes to Takemitsu: Garden Rain, performed by Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Deutsch Grammophon: Echo 20/21 Series 00289 477 5382
  72. ^ Durand Cie Edition 1905: see Lesure, François "Debussy, Claude, §6: Debussy and currents of ideas" In L Root, Deane Grove Music Online Oxford Music Online Oxford University Press  subscription required
  73. ^ Takemitsu, Tōru, "Dream and Number", Confronting Silence, 110
  74. ^ Frank, Andrew, "Review: Orchestral and Instrumental Music: Tōru Takemitsu: Green", Notes, 2nd ser, vol 33, no 4 June 1977, 934
  75. ^ Quoted in Anderson, i
  76. ^ Burt, 118
  77. ^ Knussen, 5–6
  78. ^ Burt, 176–216
  79. ^ Burt, 43
  80. ^ See Burt, 45
  81. ^ a b Rae, Charles Bodman "Lutosławski, Witold, §5: Stylistic maturity, 1960–79" In L Root, Deane Grove Music Online Oxford Music Online Oxford University Press  subscription required
  82. ^ Takemitsu, Tōru, A Flock Descends Into the Pentagonal Garden, Editions Salabert, 1977, 20
  83. ^ Richie, Donald, "Notes on the Film Music of Takemitsu Tōru", Contemporary Music Review, vol 21, iss 4, 5–16 London, 2002, 5
  84. ^ Richie, 5
  85. ^ Richie, 7
  86. ^ Tessier, Max, "Takemitsu: Interview" Cinejap, Paris, 1978, 1

Further readingedit

  • Music portal
General references
  • Burt, Peter 2001 The Music of Toru Takemitsu Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-78220-1 
  • Ohtake, Noriko 1993 Creative sources for the Music of Toru Takemitsu Scolar Press ISBN 0-85967-954-3 
  • Kreidy, Ziad 2009 TAKEMITSU à l'écoute de l'inaudible L'Harmattan ISBN 978-2-296-07763-8 
Other references
  • Koozin, Timothy, "Traversing distances: pitch organization, gesture and imagery in the late works of Tōru Takemitsu", Contemporary Music Review, vol 21, no4, Taylor & Francis, 2002, 17–34 accessible at subscription access doi:101080/07494460216671
  • Nuss, Steven, "Hearing 'Japanese', hearing Takemitsu", Contemporary Music Review, vol 21, no4, Taylor & Francis, 2002, 35–71 accessible at subscription access doi:101080/07494460216667
  • Robinson, Elizabeth A Voice, itinerant, and air: a performance and analytical guide to the solo flute works of Toru Takemitsu 2011

External linksedit

  • Toru Takemitsu: Complete Works
  • Schott Music Biography
  • Complete Takemitsu Edition in Japanese
  • Slate article focusing on his film music
  • Interview with Toru Takemitsu
  • Toru Takemitsu discography at MusicBrainz
  • Toru Takemitsu on Internet Movie Database
  • "biography" in French IRCAM 
  • Excerpts from sound archives of Takemitsu's works

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