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TakemitsuToru

(October 8, 1930 – February 20, 1996)

was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Largely self-taught, Takemitsu possessed consummate skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre. He drew from a wide range of influences, including jazz, popular music, avant-garde procedures and traditional Japanese music, in a harmonic idiom largely derived from the music of Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen.

In 1958, his Requiem for strings (1957) gained international attention, led to several commissions from across the world and settled his reputation as one of the leading Japanese composers of the 20th century. He was the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and honours; he composed over 100 film scores and about 130 concert works for ensembles of various sizes and combinations. He also found time to write a detective novel and appeared frequently on Japanese television as a celebrity chef.

In the foreword to a selection of Takemitsu’s writings in English, conductor Seiji Ozawa writes: “I am very proud of my friend Toru Takemitsu. He is the first Japanese composer to write for a world audience and achieve international recognition.”