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Born: 1930, Tokyo, JapanDied: 1996, Tokyo, Japan

“I would like to achieve a sound as intense as silence.”

Takemitsu came to music rather late, as a high school student after World War II. He was virtually self-taught (though he had one lesson with Messiaen), and his music combines a thorough knowledge of the European classical tradition (especially the music of Debussy, Ravel, and Messaien) with influences from Japanese culture. He became increasingly well-known in the early 1960s, on the strength of such works as Requiem for Strings (1957), Dorian Horizon (1966), and November Steps (1967), for shakuhachi, biwa, and Western symphony orchestra. He also composed music for almost a hundred Japanese films. The titles of Takemitsu’s pieces conjure up his vision of sound, nature, and philosophy: I Hear the Water Dreaming, From Far Beyond Chrysanthemums and November Fog, A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden.

Further listening:

From Me Flows What You Call Time (percussion and orchestra, 1990)

Requiem for String Orchestra (1957)

Twill by Twilight (1988)

Nexus Percussion Ensemble, Pacific Symphony, St.Clair (Sony Classical)

Riverrun (piano and orchestra, 1984)

Crossley, London Sinfonietta, Knussen (Virgin Classics)