Tōru TakemitsuHow slow the wind
Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu has for long been the Asian composer most frequently performed in Europe, so much so that he is seen as a musical embodiment of Asian culture. But he is not really a feasible example of this in the sense that in his style there is scarcely any distinction to be made between ‘European’ and ‘Asian’ elements. Both are present but not in opposition in his music: instead, they complement and merge into one another.
When Takemitsu was growing up, Western music was banned in Japan. After the Second World War, he consciously began to explore European music and to distance himself from Japanese culture. In the 1960s he began to re-explore his Japanese roots.
How Slow the Wind (1991), typical of the synthesis style of his late works, has a poetic, nature-inspired title, as indeed many of Takemitsu’s works. Nature was an important source of inspiration for him. The title is from a poem by American poet Emily Dickinson (1830–1886); the full quote is: “How slow the wind – / how slow the sea – / how late their Feathers be!” Takemitsu’s work is bright, impressionistically meditative music full of the timeless beauty of mysteriously swaying moods. The melodic nucleus of the work is the seven-note motif introduced by the oboe. This appears often in the course of the work while undergoing a subtle transformation.
Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi