Takemitsu: Twill By Twilight

One of the most versatile composers to come from Japan has been Toru Takemitsu, who, until his death in 1996 was able to achieve a style of music which brought together the techniques of Western classical music with the traditional music of Japan in beautiful, surprising and even haunting ways. He did this in music for the concert hall as well as the scores for some 93 films. As he stated it, his purpose was always to achieve “a sound that was as intense as silence.” His study of Western classical music came first, a task that was made all the more difficult by World War II, when it was forbidden to listen to Western music in Japan. In fact, it was not until the mid-1950s that Takemitsu began to study the music of his own country. Twill by Twilight was written in 1988 on a commission for the 25th anniversary of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. It was dedicated to the composer’s friend, Morton Feldman, a man who often wrote compositions that were of heavenly length but based upon simple means. Feldman died just prior to the completion of the work. The music is rather lush and it seems to recall the impressionism of Debussy, a composer with his own interests in the music of the Far East. In describing the title of the work, Takemitsu wrote: "The twill weave of the music takes effect by means of an extremely limited musical unit—or what we might better call the musical principle which exists prior to the forming of the melody or the taking shape of the rhythm. Subtle variations in pastel-like colors express the moment just after sunset, when twilight turns toward darkness."

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