Tōru Takemitsu pronounced [takeꜜmitsɯ̥ toːɾɯ] was a Japanese composer and writer on Toru Takemitsu: Air, John McMurtery, flute; Toru Takemitsu: Voice, John McMurtery, flute; Toru Takemitsu: Guitar, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, guitar. More by Toru Takemitsu. Takemitsu: Complete Works for Piano · 武満徹:管弦楽曲 集 · Takemitsu: Music For Orchestra ( Years Of Classical Music, Vol. 96). Air () by Toru Takemitsu for flute. Takemitsu’s last composition, Air for solo flute (), was dedicated to the great Swiss flutist Aurèle Nicolet on the.

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Largely self-taught, Takemitsu possessed consummate skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre. He composed several hundred independent works of music, scored more than ninety films and published twenty books. His 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 composers.

Takemitsu: Air, a song by Toru Takemitsu, Emmanuel Pahud on Spotify

Takemitsu was born in Tokyo on October 8, ; a month later his family takemitwu to Dalian in airr Chinese province of Liaoning. In he returned to Japan to attend elementary school, but his education was cut short by military conscription in During the post-war U. 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 U. 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, takemitus for him Japanese traditional music “always recalled the bitter memories of war”. 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 I began [writing] music attracted to music itself as one human being. After the war, music was the only thing.

Choosing to be in music clarified my identity. InTakemitsu aiir the idea tamemitsu electronic music technologyor in his own words, to “bring noise into tempered musical tones inside a busy small tube. I was pleased with this coincidence. Takemitsuu the late s chance brought Takemitsu international attention: 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” writing. This left a “deep impression” on Takemitsu: 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”.

Although the immediate influence of Cage’s procedures did not last in Takemitsu’s music— Coral Islandfor example for soprano and orchestra shows significant departures from indeterminate procedures partly as a result of Takemitsu’s renewed interest in the music of Anton Ttakemitsu —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 wir than vacuum”, can be aligned with Takemitsu’s interest takemjtsu ma. I ai 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 tradition.

For Takemitsu, as he explained later in a lecture inone performance of Japanese traditional music stood out:. One takwmitsu 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 shamisenthe 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 music.

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 ait the sensibilities of Japanese music that had always been within [him]”. In conservatoria across the country, even students of traditional instruments were always required to learn the piano.

From the early s, 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 Initially, Takemitsu had great difficulty in uniting these instruments from such different musical cultures in one work.


Takemitsy first performance of November Steps was given inunder Seiji Takemitzu. 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”.

The experience influenced the composer on a largely philosophical and theological level. For those accompanying Takemitsu on the expedition most of whom were French musicianswho ” 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 kapachithe unique scales and rhythms by which they are formed, and Japanese traditional music which had shaped such a large part of my sensitivity”.

A year later, Takemitsu returned to the instrumental combination of shakuhachibiwaand orchestra, in the less well known work Autumn The significance of this work is revealed in its far greater integration of the traditional Japanese instruments into the orchestral discourse; whereas in November Stepsthe 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 Stepsnot to blend the instruments, but to integrate them.

By takemutsu, Takemitsu’s reputation as a leading member of avant-garde community was well established, and during his involvement with Expo ’70 in Osakahe was at last able to meet more of his Western colleagues, including Tkaemitsu Stockhausen. Later that year, as part of a commission from Paul Sacher and the Zurich Collegium MusicumTakemitsu incorporated into his Eucalypts I parts takemitu international performers: 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 takemitsh as Voice for solo fluteWaves for clarinet, horn, two trombones and bass drumQuatrain for clarinet, violin, cello, piano and orchestra 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 orchestraand A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden for orchestra Throughout takemutsu apogee of avant-garde takenitsu, Takemitsu’s musical style seems to have undergone a series of stylistic changes.

Comparison of Green for orchestra, and A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden quickly reveals the seeds of this change. The latter was composed according to a pre-compositional scheme, in which pentatonic modes were atkemitsu over one central pentatonic scale the so-called “black-key pentatonic” around a central sustained central pitch F-sharpand an approach that is highly indicative of the sort of “pantonal” and modal pitch material seen gradually emerging in his works throughout the s.

These modal forms are largely audible, particularly in the momentary repose toward the end of the work.

More by Toru Takemitsu

In a Tokyo lecture given inTakemitsu identified a melodic motive in his Far Calls. 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 flow. Takemitsu’s words here highlight his changing stylistic trends from the late s into the s, which have been described as “an increased use of diatonic material [ Takemitsu wrote in his notes for the score of Rain Coming that ” His work for orchestra named Dreamtime was inspired by a visit to Groote Eylandtoff the coast of the Northern Territory of Australiato witness a large gathering of Australian indigenous dancers, singers and story tellers.

Pedal notes played an increasingly prominent role in Takemitsu’s music during this period, as in A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden. Very occasionally, fully fledged references to diatonic tonality can be found, often in harmonic allusions to early- and preth-century composers—for example, Folios for guitarwhich quotes from J. Bach’s St Matthew Passionand Family Tree for narrator and orchestrawhich invokes the musical language of Maurice Ravel and Gakemitsu popular song.

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 old and new exist within me with equal weight. He was also the first Japanese composer fully recognized in the west, and remained the guiding light for the younger generations of Japanese composers. Composer Peter Lieberson shared the following in his program note to the Ocean that has no East and Westwritten in memory of Takemitsu: Though he was the senior of our group by many yakemitsu, 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. In the foreword to a selection of Takemitsu’s writings in English, conductor Seiji Ozawa writes: He is the first Japanese composer to write for a world audience and achieve international recognition. The formal garden of the kaiyu-shiki interested him in particular.

He expressed his unusual stance toward compositional theory early on, his lack of respect for the “trite rules of music, rules that are Just as one cannot plan his life, neither can he plan music”.

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 Stepsthat combine traditional Japanese instruments, shakuhachi and biwawith 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 DreamArchipelago S.

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 Takemitsu summed up his initial aversion to Japanese and all non-Western traditional musical forms in his own words: I want a more active relationship to the present.

Folk music in a ‘contemporary style’ is nothing but a deception. Nevertheless, Takemitsu incorporated some idiomatic elements of Japanese music in his very earliest works, perhaps unconsciously. When Takemitsu discovered that these “nationalist” elements had somehow found their way txkemitsu his music, he was so alarmed that he later destroyed the works.

Other Japanese characteristics, including the further use of traditional pentatonic scales txkemitsu, continued to crop up elsewhere in his early works. Ai the opening bars of Litanyfor Michael Vynertakemitsy reconstruction from memory by Takemitsu of Lento in Due Movimenti ; the original score was lostpentatonicism takekitsu clearly visible in the upper voice, which opens the work on an unaccompanied anacrusis.

When, from the early s, [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 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 takemitdu a whole:.

Just one sound can be complete in itself, for its complexity lies in the formulation of maan unquantifiable metaphysical space duration of dynamically tensed absence of sound.

Rather, these two elements contrast sharply with one another in an immaterial balance. InTakemitsu received a commission from the Taekmitsu Theatre of Japan to write a work for the gagaku ensemble of the Imperial Household; this was fulfilled inwhen he completed Shuteiga “In an Autumn Garden”, although he later incorporated the work, as the fourth movement, into his minute-long “In an Autumn Garden—Complete Version”.

The influence of Olivier Messiaen on Takemitsu was already apparent in some of Takemitsu’s earliest published works. However, Takemitsu pointed out that he had used the octatonic collection in his music before ever coming across it in Messiaen’s music.

InTakemitsu 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 tkaemitsu Time for Takemitsu at the piano”, [67] which, Takemitsu recalled, was like listening to an orchestral performance.

On hearing of Messiaen’s death inTakemitsu was interviewed by telephone, and still in shock, “blurted out, ‘His death leaves a crisis in contemporary music!