These are only part of Fujikake's work.
Those who get interested in others can take a look at part of scores and listen to them here.
Sorry they aren't all in English.
This is Fujikake's first symphony and first solo album. Personally, it's very special, as it is how I discovered Hiro Fujikake and got enchanted by his music. The spell has never been broken and it never will. And I wish to stay under this spell forever!
It was composed, arranged, played, recorded and mixed by Fujikake at his studio, then released by the Pavane records of Belgium in 1983. He had the connection with Belgium since winning the the Queen Elisabeth Award.
It starts with the prelude that implies the vast universe, followed by the 1st Movement - Allegro. I still remember the impact I felt when the 1st Movement started when I first listened to it. It's so cooool! Then comes the 2nd Movement - Adagio and the 3rd Movement - Allegro Scherzando, the neat combination of slow and fast. The 4th Movement - Passacaglia represents peace and accordance of the universe, ascending scales in order again and again. The 44 minute Space Odyssey ends with Coda.
Although this is a grandioso symphony, it's not unintelligible. Melodies are beautiful and pleasing to the ear. Yet, it has a genuine depth. It makes you speculate on something beyond everyday life.
The Planets written by Holst presents the viewpoint of a person who looks up the sky, standing on the earth. The Galactic Symphony gives you sort of the eyes of the god. You are floating far from the Galaxy, nothing around you, and watching stars repeating the cycle of birth and death. This is a symphony of the space age.
The Gifu Symphony Orchestra commissioned it in commemoration of their 40th anniversary. Although there had been Galactic Symphony, as it was played by synthesizers, Gifu was Fujikake's first symphony for orchestra.
Gifu has exuberant nature and eventful history, in the midst of which people have lived and will live on and on. This is the idea of the 30 minute long symphony that consists of 4 movements. While taking the form of symphony, Fujikake garnished it with the fresh technique of his style. For example, the use of Japanese taiko drums and an ancient gifu folk song. When you listen to it, you first feel as if you are looking down the colorful nature of Gifu through eyes of a soaring bird and then as if you becomes a time traveler and watch various historic events. This symphony has such an expanse of time and space.
In 2003 the Gifu Symphony Orchestra celebrated their 50th anniversary, and they performed it again. Fujikake rewrote part of it to enhance this special occasion.
It's also called Symphony Japan as the overseas title.
Women's Association for Mind Education commissioned it to congratulate Takamasa Senke on his inauguration of the chief priest of the Izumo Shrine in 2002.
Fujikake read the history of Izumo and visited there to get an inspiration. Raymond Chandler's famous saying started to resonate in his mind during the tour. As the theme for the symphony it altered a little: If you weren't strong, you wouldn't be alive. If you couldn't ever be gentle or love someone, it would be meaningless to be alive.
It took 2 years and a half for Fujikake to complete it. It was an extremely trying work and Fujikake confessed he had felt as if he shortened his life and donated it for the music. It was finished on November 21, 2004.
The first public performance was given on May 19, 2005 at the Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo. On this occasion it was played by Fujikake's Solo Orchestra and a 33 piece orchestra. Among the audience was a royal family member as well as Mr. Senke himself.
Fujikake boasts that this is the first symphony which was written to be played by synthesizers and a symphony orchestra. Actually, the products of the modern technology and traditional musical instruments made a perfect match at the premiere. The credit goes to Fujikake's colorful orchestration, of course.
The structure of the symphony is as follows:
1st Movement: Andante Moderato Maestoso@"Beginning" [7 min.]
2nd Movement: Andante cantabile con espressione "Love and Love" [8 min.]
3rd Movement: Allegro con fuoco "Encounter" [6 min.]
4th Movement: Moderato Maestoso "Soar to the World" [11 min.]
At the beginning there is a short intro, starting with synthesizers and soon joined by acoustic instruments, which already carries you away to the mythical world of ancient Japan. The main theme sung by violins is extremely beautiful.
The 2nd movement is rather quiet, compared to the 1st movement. Still, it is powerful and has an exalted tone. The theme from the 1st movement appears again and flows easefully. The 3rd movement has tense and grave tunes accompanied by the strong percussion generated by synthesizers. It implies the history of conflicts. However, the 4th movement brings hope. It starts solemnly and you feel that a new dawn is approaching. And then, a fluent melody that has an Asian taste is repeated, this time accompanied by exotic drum sounds. You get the "Soar to the World" sensation in this part.
Using synthesizers, Fujikake adds sounds of traditional Japanese instruments effectively. This is one of its unique characteristics, which you never find in symphonies written by Western composers. Another distinctive characteristic of this symphony is intelligibleness. Fujikake says he disapproves the too much academic stance and tried to write melodies and harmonies that are easy for everyone to understand. He succeeded.
This is a glorious symphony. It not only describes Izumo's great history dramatically but also sends a message for the future.
This opera was planned with the cooperation between the cities of Gifu Japan and Hangzhou China. It took 3 years to finish and premiere. It is based on a legend connected with Xi Hu, or the West Lake, located to the west of Hangzhou. The story is about a boy who challenges the dark power to retrieve the seized sun and save his mother. The cast and staff are from both countries.
The opera numbers are full of Chinese flavor and successfully create a trasic fantasy world. Solo parts have flowing melodies, which are beautiful. Harmonization in chorus parts, which Fujikake is particularly skillful at, is just heavenly. Parts of rounds are fantastic too.
Fujikake formed a suite for a madolin orchestra, selecting some numbers of the opera. Its title is Legend.
Calling from Underground
This opera is a story about the War of the Year of the Monkey, or the Civil War of AD 672. The main characters are Oyori of Murakuni and his son rather than Prince Otomo. The story is told from people's side. They hope their miserable lives will be better if the new emperor comes to power. They fight for Prince Otomo only to find nothing changes. Oyori of Murakuni is a country clan and lived in present Kakamigahara city, which commissioned the opera.
According to Fujikake, what he intended to convey with this opera is the cries of those who died in a battle that foolish powers started and the wish for no more of such wars. Unfortunately, the world still needs this message to be heard.
The prelude is grandioso with heavy percussion sounds and clear synthesizer melodies. (Fujikake often performed it alone in his Solo Orchestra concert.) Then, the theme tune starts, featuring the mixed chorus of farmers. Harmonization is even more elaborate in this opera than in "Sun Legend". Solo parts are impressive, of course, but country folks are real leading characters here and their songs are sometimes powerful, sometimes beamish, sometimes sorrowful and always moving. This is the piece of work into which you can feel Fujikake put his heart and soul.
Fujikake formed suites for a madolin orchestra and a chorus, selecting some different numbers of the opera for each.
Song of Paper Making Girls
It is based on a book called "Yuki and Yasuke - Song of Paper Making Girls". Paper making in Mino has a 1300 year history. This opera is set in 18th century Mino. The tapestry of the opera is finely woven of paper making activities as the weft and Yuki's and Yasuke's inmost love for each other as the woof. However, what makes the tapestry exquisite is the music.
In this 2 and a half hour long opera, solo parts are more important than the chorus, unlike "Calling from Underground". They are beautiful ballades. Fujikake uses old folk songs for chorus parts to give the opera a local feeling.
In an interview Fujikake says, "It seemed to me that the process of writing this opera was similar to paper making. I felt Yuki's wish to make the finest paper is the same as mine to create the greatest music. I devote my life to my work, so I expect performers to play it with a real enthusiasm."
Fujikake also formed a suite for a madolin orchestra, selecting some numbers of the opera.
This 2 hour opera consists of five stories in two acts, based on folk tales and old stories that have been handed down to people in the cities of Mino and Seki. The key word throughout the opera is a bean.
Two episodes are sung by only soloists and the rest by a chorus with soloists. They are arranged alternately so as to variegate the opera. The fabulous prelude makes you excited in expectation of what's coming next.
Act 1 consists of 3 stories. The first story about a perverse elf is comical. The second is beautiful, describing love that is now tranquil though once fervid. Yet, the highlight of the opera is the third, The Nameless Tree. That year farmers suffered from a mighty famine. Kin'emon, the farmers' leader, killed the merciless reeve to save his people and was destined for the death penalty. Act 1, Scene 3 is of their parting, where solo parts and chorus parts are perfectly interlaced. When the curtain falls, you are filled with deep emotion.
Act 2 consists of 2 stories. The first one is a story of a chapman bewitched by vixens and quite comical. The second story is told by a girl who was kicked out by a step mother and saved by a bean. This heartwarming episode is recited with beautiful melodies. In the finale the grand theme song sung by chorus links all the episodes sung by each soloist.
This is Fujikake's 4th opera and it appears he has reached perfection. Melodies fit words naturally as if words themselves asked for these melodies. Music with no words is also so fantastic that I feel like listening to just those parts again and again. It is heavenly 2 hours.
This musical was produced to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the friendship agreement between the cities of Gifu and Hangzhou, China. It was perfomed by Japanese and Chinese together, both in Gifu and Hangzhou, and in two languages in the 1999 premieres.
It's based on the story written by Tsutomu Mizukami. Bunna is a frog. Although he lost his parents, he has lots of frog friends and lives a happy life. One day he gets an idea of climbing a big tree near his pond. The view from the top is excellent. But, in truth, it is a world ruled by fisticuffs up there. Bunna learns the importance of helping others and climbs down to join his friends.
As most of the cast are played by children, musical numbers are lovely and audience-friendly. Like Fujikake's other tunes, Bunna's numbers are easily fixed in your mind. Without noticing, you spontaneously sing together.
Fujikake formed a suite for a madolin orchestra, selecting some numbers of the musical. Its title is Spring Sprung.
A Tale of Little Lives
This musical is based on Fabre's Book of Insects. It's 2 hour long and consists of 2 acts. There are various kinds of insects, such as ants, wasps, crickets, ladybugs, grasshoppers, a mantis and a poison spider appearing in the musical. One of the highlights is hunting by slave-making ants but there are also lots of other killings happening. Unlike a Disney story, the powerless don't win here. Nevertheless, weak bugs who could escape still keep living, singing a powerful song of hope.
This is a musical for kids but entertains adults too. It is full of lovely tunes; a brave war dance by samurai ants, a moanful song by slave ants, a cute chorus by little ladybugs and the song of a dream world sung by all. There are also beautiful arias and duets sung by Princess ant, crickets, a poison spider and a matis. Instrumental numbers are dreamy.
When it was performed for the second time in 2002, Fujikake rewrote the orchestration.
This is based on the well-known book of the same title. There is also a movie version directed by Satsuo Yamamoto. It's a story of factory girls more than 100 years ago who went to work at a silk factory from Hida (now Gifu) to Shinsyu (now Nagano), between which there is a high mountain pass called Nomugi toge. Girls from Hida never failed to stop here and to say goodbye to their home and all they left behind. They had to endure hard labor with low wages and bad condition at factories which often ruined their health.
You may think such a miserable story would not be fit for a ballet but I watched a performance by the Reiko Matsuoka Ballet Company that was really beautiful and touching. Of course Fujikake's music contributes to it a great deal.
AMP's Swan Lake gave a fresh rendering to Tchaikovsky's music which is both classic and traditional. To be honest, I didn't find such striking originality in it as in Ah! Nomugi Toge. The mass dance scene representing the factory reminded me of the scene from "Metropolis", accompanied by Fujikake's fast rhythmic music with a fast tempo. You could never imagine that a ballet could express mechanical things so fabulously.
The Rope Crest won the Grand Prix at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium in 1977. The rope crest is the distinctive pattern for earthware of Japan's pre-agricultural civilization or the Jomon period (from about 8000B.C. to 300B.C.). Unlike subsequent periods, whose culture is known as elegant and refined, Fujikake found the Jomon culture energetic and vital, and intended to represent that in this symphonic piece.
This 24 minute long piece consists of an introduction and three parts. Two grave themes with explosive power inside them are stated in the introduction and they carry the colorful images of Jomon culture throughout this piece. To express Jomon's powerful vitality, Fujikake features rock'n roll drums as one of percussions, which works fascinatingly.
The Spirit of Nature
The Spirit of Nature was written for the Gifu Chubu Future Exposition '88 and performed at the venue before a ceramic mural of Usuzumi-zakura. (Chubu is the central region of Japan's Honshu Island) Usuzumi-zakura is Japan's oldest cherry tree. The mural was also made for the expo.
The music featured a mixed chorus consisting of more than 200. It was arranged for the Solo Orchestra with no chorus and for a mandolin orchestra later on. The 2001 version is defferent in structure.
The original version is 20 minutes long while later versions are 15 minutes long. The original version has a mystic overture, which is a bit like Kitaro's environmental music. What comes after the overture is an extremely cool up-tempo melody. I do love it! There comes a beautiful parts of a fugue next. Like this The Sprit of Nature has many variations as nature itself and both audiences and players will enjoy it.
Variations on "The Moon over the Ruined Castle"
The Moon over the Ruined Castle, the original song written by Rentaro Taki, is one of the best-known Japanese songs. Fujikake firstly wrote its variations for a mandolin orchestra and it was premired by the Gifu Mandolin Orchestra in 1983. In the last part of this 8 minute piece, orchestra members are supposed to sing the song not only to make the music sound grand but also to show their joy in playing the music.
Fujikake's great ability for variations glamorize this classic and give the feeing of greater time and space. The familiar melody changes naturally and while you comfortably leave yourself to the flow of the music, you will find yourself in the midst of a different musical landscape. It's no longer the Taki world but the Fujikake world.
In 2005 Fujikake arranged it for his Solo Orchestra. Having co-players at concerts including two Japanese taiko drumers, (one of whom also plays an old Japanese flute), and a Mongolian matouqin player, it has developed into a piece with amazing grandeur.
Lotus Land in the Sky
Wings to Eternity
These pieces were written by Fujikake and played by his Solo Orchestra for mechanical dolls of the same names as the song titles. They are 5 or 6 minutes long each. "Wings to Eternity" is set in Ginza 5-Chome, Tokyo and performed 4 times a day. "Full Blooming" is located in Oosu Kannon, Nagoya, which is the temple of the Goddess of Mercy. It is performed 4times a day. "Lotus Land in the Sky" is set in the Nishiharu Civic Center, Aichi prefecture and performed twice a day.
In my opinion "Full Blooming" is most Japanesque among three. It's about full blooming culture of Nagoya under the reign of Muneharu, who was a feudal lord from the Edo period, very swank and an entertainment-lover, compeletely opposite to his contemporary, Shogun Yoshimune. Fujikake uses Japanese percussion sounds effectively. It pictures vividly the busy downtown of Nagoya in the Edo period.
"Lotus Land in the Sky" is characterized by its flowing melody. Listening to it, you will vusualize angels dancing gracefully up above cherry blossoms in the soft blue sky of spring.
Many will agree that "Wings to Eternity" is one of Fujikake's masterpieces. It has Japanese flair too, but the impression is rather cosmopolitan. Actually, this is a great example of a marriage of Eastern and Western music. If you ever have been to Tokyo, you know how bustlingly it is with people walking everywhere. "Wings to Eternity" makes people stop walking four times every day at one of the busiest streets in the world. Some people even go into the shop that owns the mechanical dolls and ask who composed this magnificent music. This fact shows its appeal more than anything. Fujikake arranged it for a mandolin orchestra.
Sakura is one of the most-known Japanese songs and Fujikake took it as the subject for a capriccio. Well-known can often be well-worn, but Fujikake proves his unconventional musical abilities here. He displays fascinating developments of the original melody throughout 9 minutes, creating fantastic variations; varied in tempo with melodies from similar to the original to rather different ones. One part swinging, another pomposo. You will find a fresh appeal of Sakura in this piece.
There are two versions; for a guitar orchestra and a mandolin orchestra.
Hiroshima Spirit - As The Life of the New World
Dr. Tomin Harada was a surgeon from Hiroshima and a devoted pacifist. He wrote lyrics on Hiroshima's rebirth and desire for world peace. Fujikake wrote music to it. It premiered at the 1989 Hiroshima Exhibition by a mixed chorus, a panflute and Fujikake's Solo Orchestra.
It's about 9 minutes long. Though this piece is elaborate and grand, the melody is plain and easy for everyone to sing together. This is the character of Fujikake's chorus pieces.
There is a chorus version accompanied by only a piano. It is played by Hiroshima citizens on the Atomic Bomb Memorial Day every year. The Hiroshima chorus performed it in Europe too and greatly impressed people.
There are also versions for a symphony orchestra and a mandolin orchestra, whose title is Song of Lives.
I wrote this piece from June to July, 1975. It was premiered on August 23. While writing, in my mind there was an image of green, more precisely fresh green of early summer. The reason that I titled it "Pastoral Fantasy" is because the pastoral theme of part 1 is the bone of this piece.
I'd like you to listen to it freely, but some might be interested in the structure of this piece. Broadly speaking, it starts with the pastoral andante, followed by fugues of part 2 and the impressive reprise of the pastoral theme, and ends with the coda. (See the figure below.)
The theme appears in a gentle mode. Its distinctive two-note descending figure (E>D) is a cell, the most important component of this piece. Like a human body, it multiplies and forms the piece of music.
However, as I wrote above, this is just an aside. Without regard to this, I'd like you to give your imagination a free flight. Ideally, if listeners receive something spiritual, I would be most delighted. (Written by Hiro Fujikake, Translated by Isako)
Note (by Isako): This was originally written for a mandolin orchestra. Fujikake arranged it for an orchestra later on. Also, he picked up part 1 and arranged it for the Solo Orchestra. Its title is just "Pastoral".
Goh: A Chance Meeting
When a German composer, Siegfried Behrend, visited Japan, he had a chance to listen to a performance of Japanese taiko drums and was really impressed. Mr. Hisao Itoh heard this story and asked me to write a piece for a mandolin orchestra and Japanese taiko drums.
This was first played by the Gifu Mandolin Orchestra and the Agi Taiko Group at the Gifu Civic Auditorium. It was also played by Behrend in Germany and was published later on.
A Mandolin orchestra and Japanese taiko drums are totally different musical instruments. To combine them, I used the best of both characteristics and to compose entirely new music. I named it Goh, meaning the meeting of two foreign things. As I respect players' spontaneity, I opted for ad lib in some parts.
As its composer, I hope the lively vital powers of all players make an impact with each other and create a powerful performance. (Written by Hiro Fujikake, Translated by Isako)
COLLABORATION WITH JAMES GALWAY
James Galway (Flute) Hiro Fujikake (Synthesizer)
Fujikake's original songs & Traditional
The Lark in the Clear Air
The Lark in the Clear Air
James Galway (Flute) Hiro Fujikake (Synthesizer)
ARRANGEMENT FOR I MUSICI
I Musici & Heinz Holiger (Oboe)