About this Recording
8.573724 - HOSOKAWA, Toshio: Raven (The) [Monodrama] (Hellekant, United Instruments of Lucilin, Kentaro Kawase)

Toshio Hosokawa (b. 1955)
The Raven


Toshio Hosokawa was born in Hiroshima in 1955. Between 1976 and 1986, he studied composition at the Hochschule der Kunste in Berlin with Isang Yun and at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg with Klaus Huber. In 1980 he participated for the first time at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt. In subsequent years, the composer’s reputation continued to increase on an international level with commissions from the major European, American and Japanese orchestras, festivals and opera houses.

His second opera Hanjo was commissioned by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2004 and was choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. His orchestral work Circulating Ocean was commissioned by the Salzburg Festival in 2005 and was premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic. Woven Dreams, a Roche Commission, was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival in 2010 and won a BASCA British Composer Award in 2013. His third opera Matsukaze was commissioned by La Monnaie in 2011 with choreography by Sasha Waltz. Hosokawa’s Horn Concerto ‘Moment of Blossoming’ was co-commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Barbican Centre, London, and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011. Among the leading conductors who support Hosokawa’s music are Kazushi Ono, Jun Märkl, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Robin Ticciati and Franz Welser-Möst.

Toshio Hosokawa has received numerous awards and prizes. He has been a member of the Akademie der Kunste Berlin since 2001 and a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin since 2006. In 2012 he was made a member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Munich. In 2013/14 he was composer-in-residence with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been the Artistic Director on the Suntory Hall International Program for Music Composition since 2012, the Artistic Director of the Takefu International Music Festival and a guest professor at Tokyo College of Music and at Elisabeth University of Music in Hiroshima.

The Raven (2011–12)

In traditional Japanese stories, animals and plants often interact and converse with humans. In Asia, where animism has deep roots, there is no clear boundary between human beings and the natural world, unlike in the West. When I read The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe it reminded me of Japanese Noh plays because of its similarly un-anthropocentric viewpoint. The main characters in Noh plays are often animals and plants, and some are unearthly spirits. Although the poem’s central character is originally a man, a woman speaks and sings in my monodrama. This is the reverse of a Noh play, in which women’s roles are traditionally played by men.

The main character in Poe’s Raven reminiscences alone one stormy night. Each incident that occurs in the story could be a figment of his imagination, a dream or a phantom. (In Noh plays, almost everything occurs in a dream world.) When the protagonist recalls Renore, his lost love, a raven appears, saying only “Nevermore”. The poem takes the form of a dialogue with the raven, Renore’s ghost.

In many of my works with female protagonists, women act as shamans connecting this world and the spirit world. In The Raven, the singer is both a shaman and a modern woman whose rational world collapses. In this way I have interpreted Poe’s poem.

The Raven is dedicated to Charlotte Hellekant, who played the role of Murasame in my opera Matsukaze, and to the United Instruments of Lucilin.

Toshio Hosokawa

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