Toru Takemitsu was born in Tokyo
October 8th, 1930, and died there February 2 1996.
As a Japanese composer he has been the most successful in creating orchestral works that neither merely borrow from Western forms nor suffer from being Japanese traditional music on harps and cellos.
If you have seen Akira Kurosawa's film Ran, then you will have heard Takemitsu. (Although Takemitsu was not deeply pleased by his collobrations with Kurosawa, saying that he felt Kurosawa wanted him to sound too much like Gustav Mahler.)
He had an incomparable ear for the most subtle balances of colour and texture, and for the creation of improvisatory forms having the spontaneity and allusiveness of dream. Piano works and ensemble pieces bear the same hallmark of immaculately placed sonorities.
Listening through the development of one of his works is often compared to the strolling gardens of the Tokugawa era. Here is a stone, there the light fleets over a bed of moss, there a carefully trimmed shrub beneath the spreading branches of a wizened tree.
Owing allegiance to no school, and creating none of his own, he remains a unique figure in world music.
I feel very sad when I think of his death. During the last decades of his life he composed some of my favourite music.