Toshio Hosokawa


Toshio Hosokawa, who was born in a small suburb of Hiroshima in 1955, is probably the best-known Japanese composer of the present day. His distinctive musical language, based on the tension between Western avant-garde and the aesthetic and spiritual roots of traditional Japanese culture, is committed to the notion of a beauty arising from transience: “We hear the individual notes and at the same time perceive with appreciation the process of how they are born and pass away, a landscape of becoming, as it were, animated in itself in sound.”

At the age of 15, Toshio Hosokawa heard Tôru Takemitsu’s [November Steps] for biwa (short-necked flute), shakuhachi (bamboo flute) and orchestra in a radio broadcast, after which he decided to become a composer. After initial piano studies in Tokyo, he moved to the Hochschule der Künste Berlin in 1976 to study under Isang Yun, who “composes new music that not only conveys an Asian mood, but contains Asian thinking, and Asian substance” (Hosokawa). Hosokawa then went to Freiburg to study under Klaus Huber, who encouraged him to also study the repertoire, stylistics and cultural background of the Japanese court music Gagaku and to gain practical experience with a traditional Japanese instrument. As a result, Hosokawa, whose compositions were initially oriented towards the Western avant-garde, gradually opened up a new musical world between East and West, with which he has been conquering the major concert halls at least since the success of his oratorio [Voiceless Voice], which premiered in Hiroshima in 2001. His works are regularly represented in the repertoire of major opera houses and symphony orchestras. He has a close artistic partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which premiered the horn concerto [Moment of Blossoming] with Stefan Dohr as the soloist under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Hosokawa’s octet [Texture], commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation and the Japan Arts Corporation, premiered at the Philharmonie Berlin in June 2020 as part of the Berlin Phil Series. In the 2022/23 season, the Philharmoniker and 1st concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto presented the world premiere of Hosokawa’s violin concerto [Prayer].



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