“Music is calligraphy using sounds painted on the canvas of silence.” Toshio Hosokawa’s idea demonstrates his engagement with Far Eastern calligraphy as the most prominent connection between his compositional esthetic and traditional Japanese arts as well as the principles of Asian philosophy. There is not a single note in the music of this Japanese composer that is not continuously modified like a brushstroke – every sound seems to be the result of inexorable change embedded in cyclic processes of birth and decay.
Whereas constant oscillation is typical of “Landscape II”, “Landscape V” is one of Hosokawa’s most peaceful and static pieces. It was influenced by Mark Rothko’s monochromatic color field paintings, where a relationship is created between two nearly identical colors. Here the string quartet and the Japanese mouth organ shō seem to merge to become an oscillating instrument.
Hosokawa composed “Elegy” as a memorial to Miyako Umehara, the wife of his friend, the philosopher Takeshi Umehara. The piece was first performed at the funeral ceremony by Himari Umehara, the daughter of the deceased.
With its mixture of horizontally flowing microtonal motion and strikingly consonant vertical constructions (almost traditionally European), “Small Chant” appears like a synthesis of European and Asian conceptions of sound.
Hosokawa has in his music repeatedly made reference to specific historical events and their existential repercussions. “Threnody” is dedicated to the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and the ensuing devastating tsunami on 11 March 2011, which claimed more than 20,000 lives.
co-production with Südwestrundfunk
Threnody To the victims of Tohoku Earthquake 3.11 for viola (2011)
Fragmente II Version for recorder and string quartet (1989)
Small Chant for violoncello (2012)
Landscape II for harp and string quartet (1992)
Elegy for violin (2007/08)