On This Day (October 8)…Happy Birthday, Tōru Takemitsu!

My music is like a garden, and I am the gardener. Listening to my music can be compared to walking through a garden and experiencing the changes in light, pattern, and texture.

Tōru Takemitsu on his body of work. Retrieved from here.

The composer Tōru Takemitsu was born on this day in 1930.

Retrieved from here.

Takemitsu grew up listening to jazz on the radio. By the age of sixteen, he resolved to become a composer; in this endeavor he was largely self-taught. Later in life, he related that his education in music sometimes boiled down to his walking into houses where he heard piano music and asking if he could play! By the time he was twenty, he had formally debuted his first piece. Not long after, he helped found the mixed-media modernist collective Jikken Kōbō (experimental workshop), a group similar to European prewar avant-garde movements. The collective sometimes used music of musicians such as Aaron Copland and John Cage in their work; the former would later come into contact with Takemitsu through Igor Stravinsky, who heard a piece by the younger composer and was greatly impressed.

A piece of art by Jikken Kōbō member Katsuhiro Yamaguchi entitled Vitorīnu: Yoru no shinkō [Vitrine: Deep into the Night]. Retrieved from here.

Throughout his life, Takemitsu made use of diverse influences ranging from traditional Japanese music to the likes of John Cage, from Claude Debussy to Japanese gardens. He brought in both traditional Japanese instruments and experimented with early electronic music. He composed a great many standalone works during his prolific career, as well as a massive output of film scores; he even found time to write books on various musical subjects.

A piece by Takemitsu

Today is a good day to delve into the work of this incredibly unique, prolific composer. In him, all the influences listed above and more came together into a remarkable

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