HISATO OHZAWA (1907 - 1953)
The Japanese composer Hisato Ohzawa studied in the 1930s in Boston and Paris under Converse, Sessions, Schoenberg, Dukas and Nadia Boulanger, and conducted performances of his own works with the Boston Symphony and Pasdeloup orchestras. With an extensive knowledge of late Romanticism, contemporary composers and jazz, he had a good command of diverse styles, but he found contemporary conditions in Japan more limiting. His independence led him to turn to music that met the needs of his time, during and after the war. There has been wide neglect of his work since his sudden death in 1953.
The third of Ohzawa’s piano concertos, Kamikaze, refers in its title to a Japanese-made civil aircraft of that time, which set a new record of the shortest flight from Tokyo to London in 1937. The concept of the work is similar to that of the machinery-oriented music by Honegger, Prokofiev and Ohzawa’s teacher Converse. His Symphony No. 3, completed in 1938 to celebrate the 2,600th anniversary in 1940 of the founding of Japan, was one of a number of works commissioned for the same occasion. Ohzawa’s symphony sought to ally his own musical position with his own country. The work is massive in its conception, reflecting something of the patriotic feeling of Soviet music of the period.