Takemitsu, To¯ru

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Takemitsu, Tōru

Takemitsu, Tōru, outstanding Japanese composer; b. Tokyo, Oct. 8, 1930; d. there, Feb. 20, 1996. He received training in composition from Yasuji Kiyosi in Tokyo (1948), but was principally autodidact as a composer. In 1951 he helped to found the Jikken-Kb (Experimental Workshop), a group of composers, painters, performers, and poets, with which he remained active until it was disbanded in 1957. Takemitsu’s Requiem for Strings, first performed in Tokyo on June 20, 1957, revealed him to be a composer of great promise. In 1958 he was awarded the Prix Italia for his Tableau Noir for Speaker and Chamber Orch. He received the prize of the International Rostrum of Composers of UNESCO in Paris in 1965 for his Textures for Piano and Orch. A Rockefeller Foundation grant enabled him to visit North America in 1967, during which sojourn his November Steps for Biwa, Shakuhachi, and Orch. was premiered in N.Y. (Nov. 9, 1967). Takemitsu served as artistic director of the Space Theater of the Steel Pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka in 1970. In 1971 he was composer-in-residence at the Marlboro (Vt.) Music School and Festival. He was a visiting prof, at Harvard Univ. in 1973, and then at Yale Univ. in 1975. From 1973 to 1992 he was artistic director of the “Music Tody” festival in Tokyo. Takemitsu was composer-in-residence at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1984, at the Leeds Festival in 1990, at the Berlin Festival in 1993, and at many other festivals around the world. His works were also featured in various venues at home and abroad. In 1995 he was named artistic director of the Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation.

Takemitsu was the recipient of numerous honors. In 1979 he was made an honorary member of the Akademie der Künste in East Berlin, in 1985 he was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, in 1986 he was named an honorary member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of France, and in 1994 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1990 he was awarded the Prix International Maurice Ravel, as well as honorary doctorates from the univs. of Leeds and Durham. He received the Grawemeyer Award of the Univ. of Louisville in 1994 for his Fantasma/Cantos for Clarinet and Orch. In Feb. 1996, just days before his lamented death, he was honored with the Glenn Gould Prize of Canada. A book of his selected writings was tr. by Y. Kakudo and G. Glasow as Confronting Silence (Berkeley, 1995). In his music, Takemitsu demonstrated a mastery in combining the refined craftsmanship of oriental music with the innovative usages of Western avant-garde music.


dramatic: Blue Aurora for Toshi Ichiyanagi,“event musical” (1964); Wavelength for 2 Percussion Players and 2 Dancers with Video Installation (Tokyo, June 1984); over 90 film scores, including Woman in the Dunes (1964). ORCH.: Requiem for Strings (1957; Tokyo, June 20, 1958); Solitude sonore (NHK, Nov. 2, 1958); Scene for Cello and Strings (NHK, Dec. 1959); Ki No Kyoku (Music of Trees; 1961); Arc I (1963) and II (1964-66) for Piano and Orch.; Arc for Strings (1963; from the 3rdmovement of Arc I); Textures for Piano and Orch. (1964; 1stmovement of Arc 71); The Dorain Horizon for 17 Strings (1966; San Francisco, Feb. 1967); November Steps for Biwa, Shakuhachi, and Orch. (N.Y., Nov. 9, 1967); Green (November Steps II) (Tokyo, Nov. 3, 1967); Asterism for Piano and Orch. (1968; Toronto, Jan. 14, 1969); Eucalypts I for Flute, Oboe, Harp, and Strings (Tokyo, Nov. 16, 1970); Winter (Paris, Oct. 29, 1971); Corona for 22 Strings (1971); Cassiopeia for Solo Percussion and Orch. (Chicago, July 8, 1971); Gémeaux for Oboe, Trombone, and 2 Orchs. with separate conductors (1971-86; Tokyo, Oct. 15, 1986); Autumn for Biwa, Shakuhachi, and Orch. (1973); Gitimalya (Bouquet of Songs) for Marimba and Orch. (Rotterdam, Nov. 1975); Quatrain for Violin, Cello, Clarinet, Piano, and Orch. (Tokyo, Sept. 1, 1975); Marginalia (Tokyo, Oct. 20, 1976); A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden (San Francisco, Nov. 30, 1977); In an Autumn Garden for Gagaku Orch. (Tokyo, Sept. 28, 1979); Far calls: Coming, far! for Violin and Orch. (Tokyo, May 24, 1980); Dreamtime (1981; Sapporo, June 27, 1982; ballet version, The Hague, May 5, 1983); Toward the Sea II for Alto Flute, Harp, and Strings (1981; Sapporo, June 27, 1982); A Way a Lone II for Strings (1981; Sapporo, June 27, 1982); Star Isle (Tokyo, Oct. 21, 1982); Rain Coming for Chamber Orch. (London, Oct. 26, 1982); To the Edge of Dream for Guitar and Orch. (Liège, March 12, 1983); Orion and Pleiades for Cello and Orch. (Paris, May 27, 1984); Vers, l’arc-en-ciel, Palma for Guitar, Oboe d’amore, Guitar, and Orch. (Birmingham, England, Oct. 2, 1984); riverrun for Piano and Orch. (1984; Los Angeles, Jan. 10, 1985); Dream/Window (Kyoto, Sept. 9, 1985); 7 Hear the Water Dreaming for Flute and Orch. (Indianapolis, April 3, 1987); NostalgiaIn Memory of Andrei Tarkovsky for Violin and Strings (Edinburgh, Aug. 11, 1987); Twill by Twilight—In Memory of Morton Feldman (Tokyo, March 8, 1988); Tree Line for Chamber Orch. (London, May 20, 1988); A String Around Autumn for Viola and Orch. (Paris, Nov. 29, 1989); From me flows what you call Time for Percussion Quintet and Orch. (N.Y., Oct. 19, 1990); Visions (Chicago, March 8, 1990); Fantasma/Cantos I for Clarinet and Orch. (Cardiff, Sept. 14, 1991) and 77 for Trombone and Orch. (St. Paul, June 3, 1994); Quotation of Dream for 2 Pianos and Orch. (London, Oct. 13, 1991); How slow the Wind (Glasgow, Nov. 6, 1991); Ceremonial for Shö and Orch. (Matsumoto, Sept. 5, 1992); Archipelago S.(Aldeburgh, June 18, 1993); Spirit Garden (Tokyo, July 14, 1994); Spectral Canticle for Violin, Guitar, and Orch. (Kiel, June 27, 1995). CHAMBER: Distance de Fée for Violin and Piano (Tokyo, Nov. 1951; rev. 1989); Le Son Calligraphié I-III for Double String Quartet (1958, 1958, 1963); Masque for 2 Flutes (1959); Landscape for String Quartet (1960); Ring for Flute, Terz-guitar, and Lute (1961); Sacrifice for Alto Flute, Lute, and Vibraphone (1962); Valeria for Violin, Cello, Guitar, Electric Organ, and 2 Piccolos obbligato (1962; Tokyo, Nov. 1965); Hika for Violin and Piano (1966); Eclipse for Biwa and Shakuhachi (1966); Cross Talk for 2 Bandoneons and Tape (1968); Stanza II for Harp and Tape (1971) and 777 for Harp (1970); Seasons for 1 or 4 Percussionists (1970); Voice for Flute (1971); Munari by Munari for Percussion (1972); Distance for Oboe or Oboe and Shö (1972); Voyage for 3 Biwa (1973); Folios for Guitar (1974); Garden Rain for 4 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Horn, and Tuba (1974); Waves for Clarinet, Horn, 2 Trumpets, and Percussion (1976); Bryce for Flute, 2 Harps, Marimba, and Percussion (1976); Quatrain II for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1976); Waterways for Piano, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, 2 Harps, and 2 Vibraphones (1978); A Way a Lone for String Quartet (1980; N.Y., Feb. 23, 1981); Toward the Sea for Alto Flute and Guitar (Tokyo, May 31, 1981); Rain Tree for 3 Percussionists or 3 Keyboard Players (Tokyo, May 31, 1981); Rain Spell for Flute, Clarinet, Harp, Piano, and Vibraphone (1982; Yokohama, Jan. 19, 1983); Rocking Mirror Daybreak for Violin Duo (N.Y., Nov. 17, 1983); From far Beyond Chrysanthemums and November Fog for Violin and Piano (Tokyo, Dec. 1983); Orion for Cello and Piano (Vienna, March 21, 1984); Entre-temps for Oboe and String Quartet (Tokyo, May 12, 1986); All in Twilight for Guitar (1987; N.Y., Oct. 9, 1988); Signals from Heaven, 2 antiphonal fanfares for Chamber Ensemble: 7: Day Signal (Tokyo, July 25, 1987) and 77: Night Signal (Glasgow, Sept. 14, 1987); Itinerant for Flute (N.Y., Feb. 7, 1989); And then I knew ’twas Wind for Flute, Viola, and Harp (Mito, May 19, 1992); Between Tides for Violin, Cello, and Piano (Berlin, Sept. 20, 1993); Equinox for Guitar (1993; Tokyo, April 4, 1994); Paths—In Memoriam Witold Lutoslawski for Trumpet (Warsaw, Sept. 21, 1994); A Bird came down the Walk for Viola and Piano (1994; Vienna, Oct. 29, 1995); In the Woods for Guitar (1995; Tokyo, Oct. 15, 1996); Air for Flute (1995; Oberwil, Jan. 28, 1996). KEYBOARD: Piano: Lento in Due Movimenti (1950); Uninterrupted Rest (1952-59); Piano Distance (1961); Corona for Pianist(s) (1962); For Away (1973); Les Yeux clos I (1979) and 77 (1988; N.Y., Nov. 11, 1989); Rain Tree Sketch I (1981; Tokyo, Jan. 14, 1983) and 77: In memoriam Olivier Messiaen (Orléans, Oct. 24, 1992); Litany, in memory of Michael Vyner (1989; London, May 6, 1990). Harpsichord: Rain Dreaming (Washington, D.C., June 12, 1986). VOCAL: Tableau noir for Narrator and Orch. (NHK, July 1958); Wind Horse for Chorus (1961-66; Tokyo, Oct. 14, 1966); Coral Island for Soprano and Orch. (1962); Stanza I for Guitar, Harp, Piano, Vibraphone, and Woman’s Voice (1968); Crossing for 12 Women’s Voices, Guitar, Harp, Piano, Vibraphone, and 2 Orchs. (1969); Grass for Men’s Chorus (Tokyo, Dec. 1982); Uta for Chorus (1983); Handmade Proverbs-4 pop songs for 6 Men’s Voices (Tokyo, Jan. 23, 1987); My Way of Life for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (Leeds, June 30, 1990); Family Tree for Narrator and Orch. (1992; N.Y., April 20, 1995). TAPE: Sky, Horse and Death (1958; San Francisco, Jan. 1960); Static Relief (1955; Tokyo, Feb. 1956); Vocalism A-l (1956); Water Music (1960); Quiet Design (1960); Kwaidan (1966; rev. of music from the film); Toward (1970); A Minneapolis Garden (Minneapolis, March 1986); The Sea is Still (San Diego, May 7, 1986).


N. Ohtake, Creative Sources for the Music of T. T (Aldershot, 1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire