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Takemitsu, Toru

Although a japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) learnt Western music. He considered he was mostly an autodidact, and has listened to a great deal of traditional Japanese music, as well as to Debussy and Messiaen (the latter being much appreciated by eastern composers). His encounter with John Cage is also very important – beyond differences in culture, they shared deep meditations on sound and silence.

He refused to loose contact either with the musical or social traditions of his country. Toru Takemitsu had developed a singular theory: “the unknown is not to be found either in the past or the future, but actually in the immediate present”.

Having conquered all the biggest musical institutions of Japan, America and Europe, Toru Takemitsu refused to conceive any syncretic language or musical object, or to offer theories about his own situation or to reject Japanese spirituality: “One cannot for example develope theories about a blown or percussive attack, simply because it offers a complex event which is highly direct, immediate and untangible. Such a sonority happens by itself and produces spaces of silence and an incredibly metaphysical tension”.

Toru Takemitsu tends to the universal through the large range of forms and instrumental groups that he has handled: orchestral music with or without a soloist, aleatory music, vocal and choral music, chamber music or music for soloists, scenic or electronic music. Only the opera is missing, no doubt too Western in its musical and social rituals to tempt a composer who remained close to his origins.


Some of his works:

Winter (1971)
for orchestra of 72 musicians — — 6 perc - pno - 2 hp —
Editions Salabert - On purchase and on hire

Requiem (1957)
for string orchestra (
Editions Salabert - On purchase and on hire