Shinichi Takata (1920-1959)
Shinichi (pronounced Shin-ichi) Takata, son of a wealthy tradesman, was born in Tokyo in 1920. His musical education began at the age of eight. He studied composition and music theory privately with Yoshio Hasegawa (1907-1981) an exponent of the French style. One year later, in 1937, he entered the Tokyo Music School, where he not only continued his formal studies with Hasegawa, but also with Helmut Fellmer (first half of the 20th c.), Manfred Gurlitt (1890 Berlin - 1972 Tokyo), Kunihiko Hashimoto (1904-1949) and Kan-ichi Shimousa (1904-1949).
In 1941, he won the 2nd prize of the Japan Music Contest for Composition and, became 1943 conductor of the Japan Symphony Orchestra (the future NHK Symphony Orchestra). In 1950, he was appointed a professor at the Hiroshima University and one year later became the general music director at the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. He was very active as a conductor, solo pianist, composer and arranger, but he died at the early age of 39 of heart asthma.
He did not write many works since his principal activity was that of conductor, but his compositions represented various genres, from orchestral or instrumental pieces to film music and childrens’ songs. These works have recently been discovered and they reveal an exceptional musical talent.
Until recently, Japanese players have mainly performed works by Western composers. The music by Shinichi Takata may expose them to recently discovered elements of their own country’s musical heritage and begin playing the music of the great Japanese composers of the past, and, since Takata’s pieces are bringing a previously little-known, yet significant, voice to the music world, perhaps Western players will also enjoy playing this highly artistic music. Osamu Kumashiro