Toru Takemitsu (1931-1996) was a self-taught Japanese composer who combined elements of Eastern and Western music and philosophy to create a unique sound world. Some of his early influences were the sonorities of Debussy, and Messiaen’s use of nature imagery and modal scales. There is a certain influence of Webern in Takemitsu’s use of silence, and Cage in his compositional philosophy, but his overall style is uniquely his own. Takemitsu believed in music as a means of ordering or contextualizing everyday sound in order to make it meaningful or comprehensible. His philosophy of “sound as life” lay behind his incorporation of natural sounds, as well as his desire to juxtapose and reconcile opposing elements such as Orient and Occident, sound and silence, and tradition and innovation. From the beginning, Takemitsu wrote highly experimental music involving improvisation, graphic notation, unusual combinations of instruments and recorded sounds. The result is music of great beauty and originality… read more
More often than not Takemitsu's music pushes the boundaries whilst never undermining the other elements of a film. And when he was more conventional (as at Kurosawa's behest in the Mahler-influenced "Ran") he was also excellent.
The genius of modern Japanese music of the twentieth century. Aside from his excellent soundtracks mixing European avant garde and Japanese folk traditions, his orchestral music and music for guitar is fantastic! Personally, Takemitsu, Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann feel like the reigning gods in the world of soundtrack composers who expose people like John Williams for the hacks they are!