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"I am searching for a new form of Japanese spiritual culture and music, one through which I can remain true to myself as well as to my origins. We need to examine the Western world again, more carefully, in order to see ourselves objectively and to truly get to know ourselves.”
Toshio Hosokawa, Japan’s pre-eminent living composer, creates his distinctive musical language from the fascinating relationship between western avant-garde art and traditional Japanese culture. His music is strongly connected to the aesthetic and spiritual roots of the Japanese arts (e.g. calligraphy), as well as to those of Japanese court music (e.g. Gagaku) and he gives musical expression to the notion of a beauty that has grown from transience: “We hear the individual notes and appreciate at the same time the process of how the notes are born and die: a sound landscape of continual ‘becoming’ that is animated in itself.”
Last season began with the world premiere of Nach dem Sturm for two sopranos and orchestra which was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. It joins a series of large orchestral works that Toshio Hosokawa has written in recent years, including the Roche Commission Woven Dreams (Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, Lucerne Festival). Circulating Ocean, which was premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic in 2005 at the Salzburg Festival, has meanwhile become part of the standard repertoire of many orchestras. In 2013 Toshio Hosokawa returned to Salzburg with Klage for soprano and orchestra based on a text by Georg Trakl (NHK Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, soprano: Anna Prohaska).
In the 2016/17 season Christian Schmitt will premiere a new organ concerto together with the Bamberg Symphony under the baton of Jakub Hrůša in Bamberg and subsequently in Cologne. The Philharmonie Luxembourg and Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra will also programme this work in the coming season as both the Philharmonie Luxembourg and Wiener Konzerthaus are co-commissioners. Toshio Hosokawa continues to compose works that focus on nature themes such as the horn concerto Moment of Blossoming for Stefan Dohr and the Berlin Philharmonic (2011). Since 2003 he has composed the Voyages series for solo instrument and ensemble. In some of these works he combines Japanese and European instruments for example in Voyages X Nozarashi for shakuhachi and ensemble. Traditional Japanese instruments such as the shō or koto also feature elsewhere in his oeuvre which comprises approx. 130 works.
Toshio Hosokawa’s music theatre works are regularly programmed by large opera houses. His first opera Vision of Lear garnered critical acclaim at the Munich Biennale in 1998 and his 2004 work Hanjo, staged by the choreographer Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and co-commissioned by Brussels’ La Monnaie and the Festival Aix-en-Provence, has been seen on numerous stages since its premiere. Like Hanjo, Matsukaze is also based on material from the Japanese noh theatre tradition. The opera was first performed in 2011 in a production by the choreographer Sasha Waltz at La Monnaie and subsequently at the Berlin State Opera, in Warsaw and in Luxembourg. Staged performances of the monodrama The Raven for mezzo-soprano and ensemble, which received its world premiere in Brussels in 2012, have also taken place.
A highlight of the 2015/16 season was the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s opera Stilles Meer at the Hamburg State Opera, which was staged by the Japanese director Oriza Hirata. The work once again refers to traditional noh subject matter that is brought up to date in the context of Fukushima.
Toshio Hosokawa has received numerous awards and prizes. He has been a member of the Academy of Fine Arts Berlin since 2001 and a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin since 2006. In 2013/14 he was composer-in-residence at Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the Artistic Director of the Takefu International Music Festival and Suntory Hall International Program for Music Composition.
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