Friday, March 07, 2003


The Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, who died on 20 February 1996, created a vibrant world of colour and texture through his music, blending oriental themes and instruments with all that he absorbed through the Western classical tradition. He was equally (though differently) at home in both vernacular and avant-garde environments and will continue to inspire and influence us in coming generations. Great news, therefore, to hear via Schott Actuel (March/April 2003) of Shogakukan Inc's continued development of their 'complete works' edition of Takemitsu's enormously varied output. The orchestral works were published (12 CDs) in November 2002. This month sees the unveiling of volume 2, instrumental and choral music (11 CDs). In July 10 CDs of music for cinema appear, with another 10 in November. Finally, the catalogue will be completed in exactly one year's time with popular songs, tape music, music for theatre and radio and addenda (12 CDs). Together with essays, reviews, commentaries and assessments from writers across the world, this amounts to the definitive account of one of the great figures of twentieth century music - 5 volumes and 55 CDs in all. Get saving... and see also Peter Burt's book on Takemitsu.

"I would like to develop in two directions at once: as a Japanese with respect to tradition, and as a Westerner with respect to innovation. Deep down I would like to preserve both musical genres, each in its own legitimate form. But to take these fundamentally irreconcilable elements simply as a starting point for varied compositional uses is in my opinion no more than a first step. I do not want to remove the fruitful contradictions; on the contrary. I would like the two forces to struggle with one another. In that way I can avoid isolation from the tradition and yet also push toward the future in each new work." Toru Takemitsu.

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