HUMIWO HAYASAKA (1914 - 1955)
Born in the northeastern city of Sendai, the Japanese composer Humiwo Hayasaka was self-taught as a musician, combining his interest in contemporary French music and Gregorian chant with a feeling for the ancient music of Japan, in contrast with his friend and contemporary Ifukube. He made a significant living from film music, notably collaborating with Kurosawa and Mizoguchi, in the 1950s seeking new techniques that might combine atonality with Japanese characteristics.
Hayasaka’s hundred or more film scores include The Seven Samurai and Rashomon for Akira Kurosawa and Chikamatsu Monogatari (The Crucified Lovers) and Ugetsu (Tales of Moonlight and Rain) for Kenji Mizoguchi.
Hayasaka’s Piano Concerto of 1948 may be heard as a homage to Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. The sombre first movement is an elegy for those lost in the war, while the brighter second of the two movements uses Japanese scales as its basis. The 1941 Ancient Dances on the Left and on the Right refers, in its title, to the traditional Japanese bugaku, here with its symbolism of East and West, sun and moon, day and night.