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An article on Toru Takemitsu

The New Yorker has an article on the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996), who is best known to those passionate about Akira Kurosawa’s movies for his scores for Ran and Dodesukaden. Although a celebrated film composer — his credits include Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri, Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes, Shohei Imamura’s Black Rain and a number of Nagisa Oshima films — Takemitsu always remained first and foremost a composer of classical music whose personal style explored both the traditions and principles of western classical music as well as the sounds of the Japanese tradition.

From the article:

While composers in America and the Soviet Union wrote film music to pay the bills, Takemitsu had the good fortune to work with directors who encouraged him to experiment. Some of the most astringent sounds in his output appear in the score for Hiroshi Teshigahara’s brilliant, eerie 1964 film “Woman in the Dunes,” where the shifting sands are represented by sirenlike glissando strings and electronically altered tones. One director who contested Takemitsu’s independence was, not surprisingly, Akira Kurosawa, who demanded Mahlerian sonorities for his 1985 epic “Ran.” Takemitsu lost that fight, but, arguably, the neo-Romanticism of “Ran” led him toward the style of his late period, when he permitted himself a long-breathed lyricism that he had earlier avoided.


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