Toru Takemitsu  Toru Takemitsu (武満徹)
  Composer / Writer
  Date of birth:
  October 8th, 1930
  Tokyo, Japan
  Date of death:
  February 20th, 1996
  Tokyo, Japan
Composer Filmography - Writer Filmography


An art house favorite, Toru Takemitsu had a troubled youth that was interrupted prematurely due to World War II. Drafted into the Japanese army at the young age of 13, he was extremely bitter at the situation he was stuck in, only finding refugee in exploring Western music, which was banned in Japan at the time. After the war, Takemitsu took up work for the US Armed Forces before becoming very ill and bed ridden. Hospitalized, Takemitsu took the opportunity to experience as much Western music as he could, finding sanctuary in the melodies and distancing himself from traditional Japanese music that, he later stated, reminded him of his time in the war.

At only 16, and heavily influenced by the Western music he had enjoyed, Takemitsu began to compose his own work. While 17 years old, he studied briefly under composer Yasuji Kiyose, but for the most part was self-taught and by 1948 had already started experimenting in electronic music. In 1951, Takemitsu became a founding member of the experimental workshop "Jikken Kobo", an artistic group who sought to avoid Japanese artistic tradition while broadening their scope by introducing audiences to the work of Western composers. During this time, Takemitsu began studying with Toho composer Fumio Hayasaka, best known for his work on numerous Akira Kurosawa films.

After Hayasaka tragically passed away in 1955, Takemitsu began to work on his "Requiem" for string orchestra in homage to the late composer. Heard by famous Russian composer Igor Stravinsky in 1958, Stravinsky publicly praised the work while meeting and congratulating Takemitsu. It wasn't much later that Takemitsu soon received a commission for work from the Koussevitsky Foundation, launching international recognition for the budding composer.

Around this time, Takemitsu had also begun a career as a film composer, first conducting the score for Crazed Fruit by director Ko Nakahira in 1956. The composer produced work primarily for Shochiku until the early 1960's, when he branched out working with Toho and other studios on films such as Wonderful Bad Woman (1963). This era saw a lot of change in Takemitsu's style of work, influenced by an unlikely source in American electronic musician John Cage who inadvertently convinced Takemitsu to embrace traditional Japanese music that he had for so long avoided. Its influence on his work was immediate, heard in movies such as Kwaidan (1964) to fuse the unearthly with a distinctly more Japanese style of scoring.

As Takemitsu's fame and fortunes rose, the composer became more selective in his film work. Gravitating toward the art house films that one would expect to associate with the avant-garde community that Takemitsu was so involved in, adapting his multi-talented scoring techniques to change with his movie projects, from the unnerving score for The Petrified Forest (1973) to the very classical score to Glowing Autumn (1979).

Although quite active in the 1980's, including his Japanese Academy Award winning score for Ran (1985), Takemitsu was reducing his film output up into the 1990's, although making exceptions for movies such as the Sean Connery starring Rising Sun and the Yoshiko Tanaka starring Black Rain. Sadly, at age 66, Takemitsu passed away in 1996, working at the time on creating his first opera. He is remembered today through the "Toru Takemitsu Composition Award", which seeks to honor upcoming composers who might one day mold new musical styles.

Composer Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
1962 Pitfall Distributed
1963 Wonderful Bad Woman Produced
1963 Pressure of Guilt Distributed
1964 Car Thieves Produced
1964 Woman's Body Produced
1964 The Woman in the Dunes Distributed
1964 Kwaidan Distributed
1965 Beast Alley Produced
1965 Illusion of Blood Distributed
1965 Bwana Toshi Distributed
1965 The Last Judgement Distributed
1966 The Face of Another Distributed
1966 Once a Rainy Day Distributed
1967 Samurai Rebellion Produced
1967 Two in the Shadow Produced
1968 Izu Dancer Produced
1968 Hymn to a Tired Man Distributed
1969 Bullet Wound Produced
1969 Double Suicide Distributed
1970 Dodes'kaden Distributed
1971 Inn of Evil Produced
1971 Silence Distributed
1972 Summer Soldier Distributed
1973 The Petrified Forest Distributed
1973 Time Within Memory Distributed
1974 Happiness Produced
1974 Himiko Distributed
1975 Under the Blooming Cherry Trees Distributed
1975 The Fossil Distributed
1977 The Ballad of Orin Distributed
1978 Empire of Passion Distributed
1979 Glowing Autumn Produced
1980 An Ocean to Cross Distributed
1983 International Military Tribunal for the Far East Distributed
1984 Antonio Gaudí Distributed
1985 Ran Distributed
1988 Onimaru Distributed
2004 Spy Sorge (Requiem Pour Orchestre à Cordes) Distributed

Writer Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
1969 Double Suicide Distributed