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武満 徹 1930-1996 Takemitsu, Toru

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解説:仲辻 真帆 ( 6569文字 )

更新日:2018年4月24日

Tōru Takemitsu is one of the most internationally renowned Japanese composers.

He was born in Tokyo on October 8 in 1930, but shortly thereafter he moved to China where his father was working.

In 1937, he returned to Japan alone and entered elementary school, where he learned the basics of the piano. Takemitsu was mobilized for labor when he was in junior high school.

It was during his military service at an army food base in Saitama prefecture in 1945 that he had a defining encounter with Western music. A young military officer played a gramophone record of the French chanson “Parlez-moi d’amour”, which gave Takemitsu a strong shock.

He decided to make his way to music, but it was not long after the end of the Pacific War and young Takemitsu couldn’t afford to buy a piano. In those days, he imagined the sounds using a paper piano with the keyboard written on cardboard. From the end of 1946, Takemitsu gained employment at an American military base and he became able to play the piano almost every day.

At a concert in 1948, Takemitsu listened to “Violin Sonata No. 1” composed by Yasuji Kiyose and it stirred a desire in Takemitsu to learn from him. After that, Takemitsu was taken under the wings of Fumio Hayasaka through Kiyose and he started to assist with Hayasaka’s work for film music. Takemitsu was essentially self-educated but he observed closely the compositional work of Kiyose and Hayasaka.

It was in 1950 that Takemitsu appeared on the music scene. The piano piece “Futatsu no Lento (Lento in Due Movimenti)” was performed in the seventh recital of ‘Shin Sakkyoku-ha Kyōkai (the New Association of Composers)’ held in Yomiuri Hall. The music critic Ginji Yamane criticized the piece severely, describing it as ‘being before music’, but the composer Jōji Yuasa spoke of the piece in terms of high praise.

In 1951, together with musicians and artists such as Kuniharu Akiyama, Hiroyoshi Suzuki, and Takahiro Sonoda, Takemitsu founded a new group, the ‘Jikken Kōbō (Experimental Workshop)’, which was named by Shūzō Takiguchi. Takemitsu and Takiguchi continued to be on intimate terms after the end of ‘Jikken Kōbō’.

Takemitsu got tuberculosis in the first half of the 1950s. One day when he was sick in bed, a piano was carried into his home in 1954. It was a present from Toshirō Mayuzumi.

“Requiem for strings”, composed with an awareness towards his own death and for mourning the death of Fumio Hayasaka, was first put on stage in 1957. Later this work was applauded by I. Stravinsky when he visited Japan.

The opportunities for activities at the Sōgetsu Art Center in Akasaka increased in the 1960s. The center functioned as a place for experimentation and uses of new media was tried out there. Takemitsu began to adapt the graphic score and composed “Pianist no tame no Corona (Corona for Pianists)” for a recital at Sōgetsu Art Center.

Takemitsu attracted a great deal of attention in the world by his work for shakuhachi, biwa and orchestra, “November steps”. This commissioned work was composed for the 125th anniversary of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and was given the first public performance by Seiji Ozawa (conductor), Kinshi Tsuruta (biwa player) and Katsuya Yokoyama (shakuhachi player) in the United States of America. Takemitsu also made use of traditional Japanese instruments for “Shūteiga ichigu (In an Autumn Garden)”, which was composed at the request of the National Theater in 1979, and for gagaku music as well as some film music.

The first film which included Takemitsu’s name was “Kurutta Kajitsu (Insane Fruit)” which was directed by Kō Nakahira in 1956. The film stars Yūjirō Ishihara for the first time and the music written by Takemitsu makes use of jazz and Hawaiian music which bring a special excitement to the work. In “Suna no Onna (Woman in Sand)” directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara in 1964, glissandos by the strings sounds like creaks and in “Kaidan (Ghost Story)”, ‘musique concrète’ was fully used. In the director Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran (Rebellion)”, released in 1985, Takemitsu tried to compose with techniques of subtraction and ‘no-sound’ or silence.

Within Takemitsu’s oeuvre, there are also works which have a close relationship to the fine arts. Takemitsu composed the piano piece “Tojita Me (Closed Eyes)” (1-2, 1979-1988) inspired by a picture of O. Rudon’s and wrote the orchestra piece “Marginalia” (1976) and “Subete ha Usuakari no Naka de (All in the dim Light)” (1987) for guitar with an idea from P. Klee. When Takemitsu saw the photography of M. Ray and the sculpture of J. Milo, it aroused his visual experience and inspired his works.

The most important works of Takemitsu include the orchestra music “Textures” (1964), “Chihei-sen no Dōria (The Dorian Horizen)” (1966), “Quatrain” (1975), “Tōi Yobigoe no Kanata he! (Far calls, coming Far!)” (1980), the songs “Chīsana Sora (Small Sky)” (1962), “Shinda Otoko no Nokoshita Mono ha (What the dead Man left)” (1965), the piano solo “Saegirarenai Kyūsoku (Uninterrupted Rest)” (1-3, 1952-59), “Piano Distance” (1961), and the piano concerto “Arc” (1-2, 1963-64), and “Yume no Inyō (Quotation of Dream)” (1991). The rich resonance of sounds that emanate from his works are designated the ‘Takemitsu tone’.

The uniqueness of Takemitsu can be seen in his thoughts on music and use of language, which appears in many sentences and titles of works. “Oto, Chinmoku to hakariaeruhodoni (Sound, confronting the Silence)” (published by Shinchō-sha in 1971), “Yume to Kazu (Dream and Number)” (published by Libroport in 1987), and “Jikan no Entei (Gardener of Time)” (published by Shinchō-sha in 1996) are examples of Takemitsu’s writings which also are included in “Takemitsu Tōru Chosaku-syū (Tōru Takemitsu complete Works)” (in 5 volumes) published by Shinchō-sha in 2000.

Takemitsu was diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and interstitial pneumonia from a collagen disease was discovered during his hospitalization. Tōru Takemitsu passed away on February 20 in 1996. A month before his death, he left a text of prose which reads as follows: “I was gradually captivated by the sea, which connects the different areas of the earth, and its ample forms of expressions which are full of variety. If possible, with the graceful robust body like that of a whale, I want to swim the sea without west or east.” In Takemitsu’s last years, he was absorbed in composing with a three-note motif, which are symbolic of the sea, Es, E, and A. For Takemitsu, as he expanded the concepts of water and dream, composing was indeed a play in the river of sound.  

執筆者: 仲辻 真帆
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解説 : 仲辻 真帆 (2371文字)

更新日:2018年4月24日
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解説 : 須藤 英子 (430文字)

更新日:2008年4月1日
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