On today’s date in 1967, the New York Philharmonic gave the premiere performance of a new piece entitled “November Steps” by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, a work commissioned by the Philharmonic as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations. In addition to the usual instruments of the Western symphony orchestra, Takemitsu included in his score two traditional Japanese instruments: the shakuhachi flute and the biwa, a kind of Japanese lute.
Eight years after the Takemitsu premiere, an organization called Music from Japan was founded to help make other Japanese contemporary music feel “at home” in America. Music from Japan has presented some 400 works across the U.S. and premiered over 40 new works, many of them specially commissioned.
On today’s date in the year 2000, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Music from Japan presented a gala concert at Carnegie Hall, which included the premiere of a new orchestral work by the talented young Japanese composer Karen Tanaka, one of the rising stars of her generation. Among Tanaka’s recorded works is a piece entitled “Night Bird” for two decidedly Western instruments: saxophone and piano.
Each day, John gladly shares his passion for music with you. The knowledge that he offers, and the stories he shares through Composers Datebook is made possible with your support. Please, take 2 minutes and make a gift today for your 2 minutes of daily music knowledge.