SABURO MOROI (1903 - 1977)
Saburo Moroi was born in Tokyo on 7th August 1903. His family was from Honjo of Saitama Prefecture, adjacent to the north of Tokyo. His father Tsunehei Moroi (1862-1941) was a leading industrialist. founder of the Chichibu Cement Company Limited, an enterprise later taken over by Kanichi Moroi (1896-1968), Saburos older brother, a leading economist and businessman. Saburo grew up, influenced and stimulated by this seven-year-older, scholarly brother, who had a good knowledge of arts in general and was able to play the piano. Saburo was given piano lessons by him in his early years and began composing simple pieces as a child. It was in his third year of Junior High School in Tokyo that he made up his mind to become a composer. His brother took him to a series of recitals by the pianist Sueko Ogura, who had just returned to Japan after her studies in Berlin under Heinrich Barth and her stay in the United States. The programme was the Beethoven sonatas.
While studying at Urawa High School and later in the Literature Department of Tokyo Imperial University (his major was aesthetics and art history), Moroi took piano lessons from Eiichi Hagiwara at first, and then Willy Bardas (Schnabels pupil, who had lived in Japan since 1923) and Leonid Kochanski (Leonid Kreutzers pupil, who became professor of Tokyo Music School in 1925), as well as teaching himself composition and theory. His father wanted him to enter the business world, but gradually came to understand his son, finally agreeing in 1930 to his becoming a musician. It was during his third year at university, Moroi formed a music group surya (the sun god in Sanskrit) with his friends. It served as an organization for performing his own works, and by 1931 seven concerts had been given there. The first one was for orchestral works and the series included Morois Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Symphonic Fragment, Piano Quintet, String Quartet Voice of Dream, two violin sonatas, two cello sonatas and five piano sonatas. His activities with surya brought wider recognition, and it also became a society for young literary men and artists, including Tetsutaro Kawakami, Hideo Kobayashi, Chuya Nakahara, Tatsuji Miyoshi, Hidemi Kon, Shohei Ooka and Kenzo Nakajima, many of whom were later to become renowned literary critics, poets and novelists. Feeling that his compositional skills were not fully developed, Moroi went to Germany in 1932 to study at the Berlin Musikhochschule under Leo Schrattenholz (who had been an assistant to Karl Leopold Wolf, during the distinguished Japanese composer Ksak Yamadas period of study with him) and Walter Gmeindl. Greatly stimulated by the music of Bruckner and Hindemith, he returned to Japan in 1934, now a mature composer, both technically and mentally, with his Berlin days a great turning-point in his creative career.
Morois' creative life, in its true sense, started from his Berlin days, as he himself claimed. Works from this period include Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 5, String Quartet, Op. 6, Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 7, and Symphony No. 1, Op. 8, all of which were composed and first performed in Berlin. After returning to Japan, he produced his Viola Sonata, Op. 11, Cello Concerto, Op. 12, Bassoon Concerto, Op. 14, Flute Sonata, Op. 15, Symphony No. 2, Op. 16, String Sextet, Op. 17, Violin Concerto, Op. 18, String Trio, Op. 19 and Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 20. They were written during the fruitful period between 1933 and 1939. His reputation was also enhanced during this period, especially by two successful premires: the Japanese premire of Symphony No. 1 and the world premire of Symphony No. 2.