1994 – Toru Takemitsu

Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu won the 1994 Award for Music Composition for his work “Fantasma/Cantos.”

The work was commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corp. for the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra premiered the work Sept. 14, 1991.

Takemitsu described the work as being “influenced by Japanese landscape gardens in the ‘go-round’ style. You walk along the path, stopping here and there to contemplate, and eventually find yourself back where you started from. Yet it is no longer the same starting point.”

Renowned clarinettist Richard Stoltzman, who premiered the work with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, said Takemitsu’s “complex mastery of the clarinet’s 20th century technical and expressive potential coupled with his poetic prescience for the variation form have combined to give us a unique masterpiece.”

“Fantasma/Cantos” is one of many honored works by Takemitsu. Widely recognized as the leading Japanese composer in the second half of the 20th century, his works have been premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, among others.

His largest orchestral work, “Gemeaux,” was presented at the 1988 Edinburgh Festival by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. L’Orchestre du Paris premiered “A String Around Autumn” in 1989 for the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

Takemitsu was a composer in residence with many organizations, including the Aldeburgh Festival and the Almeida Festival in England and the Glasgow Musica Nova Festival. He also served as composer in residence of Wien Modern.

In 1992, he was selected as the first theme composer of the Masters of 20th Century Music celebration by the International Society of Contemporary Music Polish Section.

His many honors included the 1991 UNESCO/IMC Music Prize and the Japan Foundation Award. Toru Takemitsu died in 1996.