The Life of the Composer (1996)
In the morning rain you recall Takemitsu Toru.
It was one month after he passed away.
You were his pianist.
You also assisted with composition. You
created orchestra scores for film
from finely written sketches,
learned about instruments and the relationship between
film and music.
Though it seemed a long time, it was
only for 3 years, yet a highly concentrated time.
You became his friend, then his critic.
He was hurt by this.
But unlike you, he
never spoke badly of you.
You took a different road.
For a while, you stopped seeing him.
Several years later his scores were being sold in a
A line of worshippers waited for his autograph.
You bought the score for a piece written for you long ago
and joined the line.
You intended it as a joke, but was it?
You became friends again, and 10 years passed.
For a while, he made no appearances.
It was rumoured that he was sick.
Thinking that he was trying not to see people,
you didn't visit him,
but what was holding you back?
In the meantime the seasons changed, and you
lost your friend for the second time.
Memory is a fragile thing.
The first conversation with him was on a stormy night.
A typhoon stopped the trains, and you stayed at an old inn.
What did you talk about amid the racket made by the rain?
You also stayed at his house the night his daughter was born.
What did you talk about while waiting for the news?
No words come to mind.
All you can surely sense is the echo of his voice.
When you remember him, the sound of his music
does not ring.
He was a composer.
Not only that. He sought to be a composer.
He had a sure love for music.
One could even say it gave him life.
The music he adored as a youth,
the Schoenberg, the Messiaen, the American songs played
on the radio those days
taken up at his group's concert--
did these sounds ever stop playing within him?
This single-minded love, where did it take him?
The ringing of bells and a distant song crossing sounds
within his mind.
Whose music is this?
From the time it emerged as his own music,
didn't he shut himself up on the inside of that music?
Is there happiness in taking music as one's abode?
Music drew him into a wide world.
He had many musical friends.
Conductors, soloists, orchestras, music publishers.
The international music market of the orchestra.
Therein, music is like a bill to be traded--
none other than his autograph, his identification.
The orchestra is tied to wordly power.
In East Asia since 2500 years ago it was the music
of the court.
It didn't appear in Europe so long ago.
Today nations exist so orchestras exist.
When nations fall, so will orchestras fall.
When national borders are gone, orchestras will be obsolete.
For the person who composes orchestral music,
it is not enough
to make the music one's own.
If you think works that do not ascribe to the nation,
that do not carry the burden of the nation
will be accepted, just try it yourself.
Sound is born, sound disappears. The same sound is
never born twice.
There is one sound, and another sound, that is all.
One sound does not lead to the next.
A sound disappears in the place of its birth.
The next sound is born in the next place, and there it
The sense that these are continuous
derives from the impulse to create, the traces of the mind,
the mechanism of desire that creates a single sound,
abandons it without completing it, and then heads
towards the next sound.
But in reality it is impossible to create even a single sound.
There are hands, instruments, intentions, movement.
The combination of these flickers each moment.
No one's figure can be seen therein.
A single movement moves itself.
The creation of music is nothing but a dream. Nothing but an illusion.
To create music is like scooping water with a container that has a hole in it.
Even if you try to give shape to the spilling sand,
make it your own,
all that remains in the grasping hand is blank time.
Chase the ungraspable sounds to make a single work,
finish writing the final page, and still the music
will not be complete.
The created music could not become his own.
The music was not within him,
nor was he within the music.
He is not music. Music is not him.
Is it ever possible to say where music exists?
Or where he is?
To other people, his music is his own,
and he exists within his work.
Within him, there is music which has yet to be written.
He himself also comes close to believing this.
Without this belief, the life of the composer cannot be.
But the impulse to create cannot be deceived.
If other people hear his name in this sound,
what should he hear in it?
Even if we try to give his name to the song that sounds
we cannot approach it through the work.
The skillfully placed net does not catch the music.
What remains as his own is only the act of creation.
The act of creation: why can we not say that it is not
the act of distancing oneself from music through music?
Unrequited thoughts compel the creation of the next work.
Other people call it maturation:
this trap, like a spider getting caught in a web of its
He himself probably comes close to believing this too.
This is love for music. This is the life of the composer.
Life gradually falls apart. The face and voice too are lost.
Memories also vanish, the name also vanishes.
The work cannot be eternal.
But even if no one is there, and nothing is left,
the dream of creation alone continues to dream,
floating like a seed.
This dream never knows consolation.
(Translation: Indra LEVY) top contents back to frontpage home