Ishii, Maki

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Ishii, Maki

Ishii, Maki, Japanese composer and conductor, brother of Kan Ishii; b. Tokyo, May 28, 1936. His father, Baku Ishii, was a celebrated scholar of modern dance. As a child, he was introduced to traditional Japanese instruments. Later he studied piano, violin, and theory. After receiving instruction in conducting from Watanabe (1952–54), he studied theory and composition with Ifukube and Ikenouchi (from 1956) in Tokyo. In 1958 he went to Berlin to study composition with Blacher, counterpoint with Pepping, and 12-tone technique with Rufer. Upon returning to Tokyo in 1961, he was active with the electronic music studio at the NHK. In 1969 he was again in Berlin on a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. He subsequently was active as a composer and conductor in contemporary music circles in Europe, the U.S., and Asia. From 1978 to 1984 he was host and conductor of the TBS-TV program “Here Comes the Orchestra” in Japan. After serving as artistic director of the Tokyo Summer Festival from 1985 to 1989, he founded the Asian Music Festival there in 1990. In his works, Ishii attempts to combine the coloristic effects of Japanese instruments with European techniques of serial music and electronic sounds.


Prelude and Variations for 9 Players (1959–60); 7 Stücke for Small Orch. (1960–61); Transitions for Small Orch. (1962); Aphorismen I for String Trio, Percussion, and Piano (1963) and II for Piano (1972); Galgenlieder for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, and 13 Players (1964); Characters for Flute, Oboe, Piano, and Guitar (1965); Hamon for Violin, Chamber Ensemble, and Tape (1965); Expressions for Strings (1967); 5 Elements for Guitar and 6 Players (1967); Piano Piece for Pianist and Percussionist (1968); Kyō-ō for Piano, Orch., and Tape (1968); Kyō- sō for Percussion and Orch. (1969); La-sen I for 7 Players and Tape (1969) and II for Cello (1970); Sō-gō I for Shakuhachi and Piano (1970) and II for Gagaku and Orch. (1971; work resulting from simultaneous perf. of Music for Gagaku and Dipol); Music for Gagaku (1970); Dipol for Orch. (1971); Sen-ten for Percussion Player and Tape (1971); Chō-etsu for Chamber Group and Tape (1973); Polaritäten for Soloists and Orch. (1973; work exists in 3 versions, each having different soloists: I for Biwa and Harp, II for Shakuhachi and Flute, and III for Biwa, Harp, Shakuhachi, and Flute); Synkretismen for Marimba, 7 Soloists, Strings, and 3 Percussionists (1973); Anime Amare for Harp and Tape (1974); for Orch. (1975); Lost Sounds III, violin concerto (1978); Translucent Vision for Orch. (1981–82); Afro-Concerto for Percussion and Orch. (1982); Kaguya-Hime, symphonic suite for Percussion Group (1984); Gioh, symphonic poem for Yokobue (Japanese Flute) and Orch. (1984); Gedatsu, concerto for Yokobue and Orch. (1985); Herbst Variante for Orch. (1986); Intrada for Orch. (1986); Concertante for Marimba and 6 Percussionists (1988); Fü Shi I for Orch. (1989) and II for Nō-kan and Small Orch. (1989); Suien Densetsu/Legend of the Water Flame for Yokobue, Percussion, Reciter, and Dance (1990); Weisser Nachtklang, ode to Tchaikovsky for Strings (1990); Strange Tales: Urashima Tarō/A Fiction: Relativity Theory, “iconological performance” for Gagaku, Syōmyō, Percussion, Bugaku, and Modern Dance (1991); SouthFireSummer, percussion concerto (1992); Floating Wind, symphonic triptych (1992); WestGoldAutumn for String Quartet (1992); Towards Time Dragon Deep, symphonic ballad (1994); Episode I for Percussion (1994; rev. 1996); Fagotte Rhapsodie for 3 Bassoons and Contrabassoon (1996); Beyond a Distance for Cello (1997); Die Stimme der Tempelglocken, ballet (1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire