Mass Takemitsu dump.
December 28, 2010 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) was an avante-garde Japanese composer who took influences from jazz, pop music, and traditional Japanese music. In his lifetime he composed over 100 film scores, and 130 concert pieces. Just last week, there was a tribute to his work at Carnegie Hall as part of their JapanNYC Festival. A documentary about his work is available on Veoh (requires Veoh plugin) and on Youtube (1 2 3 4 5 6).

Not only was he a regular old classical composer, but he also did a bunch of awesome arrangements of popular music for classical guitar:
Londonerry Air (An Irish Folk Song)
Over the Rainbow
Summertime by Gershwin
A Song of Early Spring (Japanese: Soshunfu (早春賦))
Amours Perdus
What a Friend
Secret Love
Michelle by the Beatles
Hey Jude by the Beatles
Yesterday (and another, and another)

(A quick aside: just take a look at this guy's youtube channel, because his guitar playing is the bomb. He has a playlist of all the songs above, too.)

Previously, we've seen one of his scores that was thought to be lost. However, one of his most notable scores was the score for Kurosawa's Ran (trailer). Kurosawa asked for a Mahler-like score for his adaptation of King Lear. What he got was both exactly what he asked for and entirely different.

Some of Takemitsu's early experiments in electronic music.

Even in his concert works, Takemitsu was a very visual composer. I encourage you to just close your eyes and listen:
Rain Tree Sketch I & II (Piano), Rain Tree (1 2) (Percussion)- A series of pieces based on a description from Kenzaburo Oe's short story "Clever Rain Tree", from the book Women listening to the "rain tree". "Rain Tree is used as a metaphor of water circulating in the cosmos, and Takemitsu employed Messiaen's modes of limited transposition in order to construct the pitch collections evocative of cosmic imagery." (via)

Air for Solo Flute
- His final work
posted by azarbayejani (8 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I always wanted to know more about Takemitsu.
Well, I have no excuse now...plenty-o-links.
This is what makes Mefi great.
posted by quazichimp at 1:09 AM on December 28, 2010

Thanks for this, azarbayejani. I love Takemitsu, he was a really great composer, but there are gaping holes in my knowledge of his work, and this post looks like it will help remedy that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:01 AM on December 28, 2010

Takemitsu's score for Kwaidan is a thing of beauty.
posted by The Mouthchew at 2:55 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I once met Takemitsu, back in the 1980s. He was completely charming in person.

Thanks for the post.
posted by spitbull at 5:01 AM on December 28, 2010

This is so great; yesterday I saw a buddy reading this book of Takemitsu's writings at a coffee shop and stopped to have a nice conversation about him, Debussy, Cage, Messiaen and the value (or not) of going to music school. Thanks, azarbayejani; you are clearly in league with the universe.
posted by mediareport at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2010

Seconding the "Takemitsu was adorable in person." He really navigated the whole "eminence grise" role with grace and charm.

The thing about Takemitsu that is constantly astonishing and delightful to me is his versatility. His works range from lush to stark, from haunting solo instrumentals to big ol' juicy walls of orchestral sound. He's like Picasso in being a master of so many approaches, but infusing each with his own vision.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:01 PM on December 28, 2010

Over at Wikipedia, he's "largely self-taught" (part of his success, no doubt), wrote a detective novel and was a celebrity chef on TV.
posted by Twang at 2:17 PM on December 28, 2010

This documentary has a look at some really interesting experimental Japanese cinema. Until then I had just thought of Toru as the Kurosawa-soundtrack dude.

Also, we just watched Kwaidan again recently. A stunner!
posted by ovvl at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2010

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