The works for piano and violin by Toru Takemitsu: A cultural and stylistic perspective

Miyako Tadokoro Zeng


Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996), the most highly regarded Japanese composer of this century, wrote three works for piano and violin: Distance de Fee (1951), Hika (1966), and From Far Beyond Chrysanthemums and November Fog (1983). This study provides a stylistic analysis of these works by examining the form, harmonic vocabulary, rhythmic patterns, and texture of each piece. In order to put these works into a historical and cultural prospective, this research also gives a detailed discussion of both the Western and Japanese influences on the composer's personal life which are reflected in his composition. Chapter I provides both a brief history of Japanese music, including the development of Western music in Japan since 1868, and a survey of Takemitsu's life and influences. Chapter II examines Takemitsu's compositional style, including both Western and Japanese elements, by discussing each of his style periods and listing the chamber works of each period. Chapters III and IV provide a stylistic analysis of the individual works. Distance de Fee and Hika are included in Chapter III. From Far Beyond Chrysanthemums and November Fog is discussed in Chapter IV. The uniqueness of Takemitsu's music is the basic focus of my research. However, it also examines the spirit of unity between the East and the West as conveyed by the composer. With the increasing rate of global exchange of cultures and traditions, Takemitsu's music is becoming more and more popular in the Western world. As a musician, it is important for me to make my contribution to the movement started by Takemitsu and his predecessors by analyzing his music and presenting it in its historical and cultural context.