Composers: In an Icy Forest

"I keep hearing a great river of sound flowing around me," says Japanese Composer Toru Takemitsu, "like machines grinding away or air whooshing out of a ventilation duct, or voices of people talking with each other. As a composer, I merely dip my hands into this river and ascertain the meaning of whatever sounds I've fished from it."

His catches have been fashioned into jazz pieces and film scores (Woman in the Dunes), but it is his avant-garde compositions that have made Takemitsu, at 37, Japan's leading exponent of a new, totally modern yet distinctly native musical style. He...

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