geboren 1930 in Tokio, ist möglicherweise der europäischste unter den japanischen Komponisten.
Schon in den späten 40er Jahren hat er sich für die "Musique concrète" der Schaeffergruppe interessiert und nahm die Einflüsse der zweiten Wiener Schule, der freien Improvisation und der Aleatorik in seine Arbeit auf. Nach Privatstudien bei Yasui Kiyose und Fumio Hayasaka beschäftigte sich Takemitsu autodidaktisch mit der Moderne und bekam Anschluß an die internationale Avantgarde.
Takemitsus Instrumentalmusik der Anfangsperiode ist von dissonanzreichen, ausdrucksintensiven Klängen geprägt. Die Tempi sind immer langsam. Während zu dieser Zeit bei Takemitsu Einflüsse von Schönberg und Berg bemerkbar sind, bildet der französische Kompositionsstil, besonders der von Debussy, bis heute die Basis seiner Werke. Um 1970 begann Toru Takemitsu die geistigen Einflüsse der Natur in seiner Musik, zusammen mit der poetischen Benennung seiner Werke, weiterzuentwickeln. Sie bilden Themenreihen wie z.B. "Raum und Zahlen", "Wasser" und "Sternbild".
Toru Takemitsu lehrte an veschiedenen Universitäten: der Yale University, der University of California in San Diego, der Harvard University, der Boston University und anderen.
Er ist Ehrenmitglied verschiedener Akademien und "composer-in-residence" bei den wichtigsten Festivals neuer Musik.
1990 wurde ihm der Ehrendoktortitel von den Universitäten Leeds und Durham verliehen. Seine Werke erhielte viele Auszeichnungen und Preise.
A GARDEN OF DREAMS
"Beautiful" is not a very common adjective for 20th century composers, but it is most appropriate for the music of Toru Takemitsu. Unlike many Japancse composers of his generation, Takemitsu neither accepted the baggage of Western formal structure nor imitated the "sound" of Japanese instruments?although his extraordinary legacy does include colorful and individual uses of traditional instruments. Rather he drew from a very deep place within himself, finding in music a garden of dreams.
Takemitsu's scores, like dreams and gardens, are timeless, sensuous and elusive One has barely grasped the beauty of a scene when, as if moved by an irresistible flow, the view is altered to another perspective. The sounds seem almost tactile, not describing the outward motions of phvsical gestures, but rather the impulse and logic of the plant world, the stress and pull of the sinewy thought of dreams Never willful, Takemitsu's music unfolds .slowly, with .iii almost liquid sense of' time. Although often extraordinarily virtuosic there is always .1 natural feeling with etch sound event blossoming organically, floating on a sea of timelessness. Like water?ripples in the wake of a movement, Takemitsu's music focuses again and again on the resonance of sounds, even more than oil the attack. His piano scores often call for very complicated use of all three pedals, always in the interest of "playing" the resonances, even as they die away. Such focus on changing resonance is rare in classical music: most other composers simply add new notes, rather than embracing and husbanding each one with such care for its complete duration (or life?cycle The piano here (especially with such a kindred spirit as Peter Serkin) sounds as it 'it is much more than just a piano.
Distance away ... one can hardly miss Takemitsu's focus on space and dimension. Important in understanding in?\, Japanese artist's work is the concept of ma: the nothing which is essential for the perception of something (as in the opening without which there would be no doorway). Each musical phrase is viewed as an arc, almost as if complete in itself, and therefore?unlike most Western music?a culmination enclosing, enfolding the music. Takcmitsu brings this very Japanese sensibility into the mainstream of Western classical tradition.
Takemitsu emphasized that, for the Japanese, melody, rhythm and harmony are not primary concerns. What is valued is tonal color and quality. Takemitsu often cited the traditional Japanese music concept ichion jubutsu ("single?sound Buddha?becoming") which is similar to William Blake's "To see a World in a grain of sand,/And a Heaven in a wild flower,/Hold Infinity in the palm of Your hand,/And Eternity in an hour. "
In a sense Takemitsu exemplified the cultural floating of his generation, which had the gigantic task of reinventing Japan after the disastrous militarism that metastisized into WWII. His school was mostly film music (hr became one of tile finest of film composers, as is aptly shown in a remarkable recent documentary but ASO contemporaries such as Messiaen Varcsc, Duke Ellington and Gil Evans. Serkin recalls Takemitsu play ing entire movie soundtracks by heart in his idiosyncrat? way "barely touching the keys, very airy, off the ground, unbelievably subtle, More suggestion than realization." Only gradually did he get to know cite classic's like Haydn. Serkin speculates that the freshness of his approach might have been because of his ahistorical education. The twilight, feathery half?whisper?in?the?car phrases contribute to the visionary dreaminess of his music, but, ever individual, a special subtlety suffuses all aspects of Takemitsu's works Before composing he always played sonic of Bach's St. Matthew Passion His harmonic thinking is obviously indebted to Debussy and Messiaen But hcrc too, lie created a unique 2011,11 sense. Particularly interesting is his recurrent use of the tritone as a consonant harmony Most other composers have retreated from using the tritone except in passages of dramatic conflict because of its unsavory reputation a's the so called "devil in music." There is nothing dev? about the tritone with Takemitsu ? it is "pantheistically" uscd here simply as highcr harmonics of the natural resonance.