Toru Takemitsu

Toru Takemitsu was born in Tokyo on 8 October 1930. After the war, resolving to become a composer, he began to study composition with Yasuji Kiyose in 1948, though he remained basically self-taught. His composing debut came at the age of twenty with the piano piece "Lento in due movimenti". Takemitsu showed a very clear interest in many nonmusical art forms, such as modern painting, literature (particularly poetry), theater and film. In 1951, together with other composers and artists from the most divergent disciplines, he founded the "Experimental Workshop", a mixed-media group which soon became known for its avant-garde multi-media activities.

Takemitsu first gained public recognition as a composer in the late fifties, with his Requiem for strings (1957). His interest in different artistic fields and his self-taught status deeply influenced his avant-garde style. He was using tape recorders to create musical collages out of "real" sounds ("musique concrète") as soon as 1950 (Water Music 1960, Kwaidan 1964).  In the early sixties two new influences established themselves in Takemitsu's music: traditional Japanese music (e.g. November Steps, 1967, for biwa, shakuhachi and orchestra) and nature (e.g. ARC I, 1963, for orchestra, A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, 1977, for orchestra). On the occasion of the world exhibition EXPO 1970 in Osaka, he was musical director of a theatre project ("Space Theater of Street Pavilion"). Whereas the influence of Schoenberg and Berg were noticeable in the works of his early period, the French style of composition, particularly that of Debussy, has remained the basis for his works thereafter. Takemitsu was also very receptive towards other music (jazz, chanson, pop tunes) and, being an ardent film fan, he has also composed film music (e.g. Ran, Dodeska-Den). Although at home in the electronic media and film music, his most characteristic works are perhaps for chamber ensemble and large orchestra.  Including arrangements of classic pop-melodies, the 12 Songs for Guitar (1977) are evidence of Takemitsu's liking for so-called light music. Takemitsu is in particular an instrumental composer and being adherent to a "musique concrète", he uses even in his electronic pieces solely natural sounds instead of electronic ones.

He lectured on composition at the Yale University and was also invited by universities in the USA, Canada and Australia as a lecturer or composer-in-residence. He was awarded many honours and prizes, for example the UNESCO-IMC Music Prize in 1991 and the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1994 for Fantasma/Cantos.

Takemitsu died in Tokyo on 20 February 1996.

© Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG, 2009

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1952 Undisturbed Rest 3.50 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
Based on poems by Shuzo Tagiguchi

Roger Woodward - Keyboards

1956 Vocalism Ai 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Electronic Tape Music
1952-1959 Uninterruoted Rest 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1959 Requiem for String Orchestra 4.00 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
Now that the modernity of this piece has evaporated, a rather nice piece of music for string orchestra, in the Barber Adagio tradition remains.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra cond. Seiji Ozawa

1959 Requiem for String Orchestra 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi

1960 Water Music 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Built from recordings of water drops,
1961 Piano Distance 3.50 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
Tempo MM=30?
Then the distance will increase rapidly.

Roger Woodward - Keyboards

1961 Piano Distance 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1961 Landscape for String Quartet 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Lotus String Quartet
1962 Corona for Pianist(s) 3.50 stars  LP
Takemitsu Comments:
London version as performed by Roger Woodward

Roger Woodward - Keyboards

1962 Coral Island 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Mutsumi Masuda - Sopano
Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra cond. - Hiroshi Wakasugi
1966 The Dorian Horizon. 4.00 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
About the dorian key.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra cond. Seiji Ozawa

1967 November Steps 1 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Kinshi Tsurata - Biwa
Katsuya Yokoyama - Shakuhachi

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi

1967 Green (November Steps 2) 4.00 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
Now I wish I had a recording of November Steps 1, with the shakuhachi, which in concert made such a great impression on me.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra cond. Seiji Ozawa

1968 Asterism for Piano and Orchestra 4.00 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
Yuji Takahashi - Piano and the record sleeve is by Jasper Johns

Toronto Symphony Orchestra cond. Seiji Ozawa

1973 For Away 3.50 stars LP
Takemitsu Comments:
Written for Roger Woodward

Roger Woodward - Keyboards

1973 For Away 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1979 Les yeux clos 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1980 Far Calls, Coming, Far! for violin and orchestra 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Yuzuko Horigome - Violin

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi

1981 Rain Tree Sketch 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1972-1986 Gemeaux for Oboe, Trombobe,2 Orchestras and 2 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Masashi Honma - Oboe
Christian Lindberg - Trombone

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi and Ryusuke Numajiri

1985 Dream / Window 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi

1989 Les yeux clos II 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1989 Vision for Orchestra 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi

1950-1989 Litany 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1992 And then I knew 'twas Wind 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
For Flute, Viola and Harpe

Trio Nobis

1992 Rain Tree Sketch II 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Izumi Tateno - Piano
1994 Spirit Garden 4.00 stars 2 CD*
Takemitsu Comments:
The composer supervised the recording.

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra cond. Horishi Takasugi

All releases marked * are former Denon recordings