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WORKS OF THE 1930s

 

Three Songs of Autumn from the Heian Period (1932)
Brief description: Akira Ifukube's first known attempt at composition, scored for mezzo-soprano and piano. Believed lost for over eighty years, it received its first known public performance in July 2016 at the Tokyo College of Music.

 

Jin (1932)
Brief description: Work for solo guitar, inspired by an Ainu dance. Score is lost.

 

Nocturne (1933)
Brief description: Work for solo guitar. Score is lost.

 

Piano Suite (1933)
Brief description: Work for solo piano and Ifukube's first published work. Four movements: Bon Odori (Allegro energico), Tanabata (Lento tranquillo), Nagashi (Quasi burlesco), Nebuta (Marciale pesante). Piano Suite was performed by Gino Gorini at the Venice International Contemporary Music Festival in 1938. Dedicated to the American pianist George Copeland.

Japanese Rhapsody (1935)
Brief description: Ifukube's first orchestral work. Two movements: Nocturne and Fête. Japanese Rhapsody requires a large orchestra with triple woodwind and an unusually extended percussion section. Completed at the composer's isolated forest cabin in 1935. Later that same year, Japanese Rhapsody won the Tcherepnin Prize in Paris. In 1936 it debuted in Boston. In 1938 the Nocturne movement was performed in various European cities and, upon its Helsinki première, it won the admiration of Jean Sibelius. Dedicated to the Russian-American conductor Fabien Sevitzky.

 

Triptyque aborigène (1937)
Brief description: Work for chamber orchestra in three movements: Payses (Tempo di jimkuu), Timbe (Nom regional), Pakkai (Chant d'Aino). Ifukube began work on this piece at his forest cabin and completed it at the Gomi-ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Akkeshi, Hokkaido. Its three movements are descriptive of scenes from Akkeshi. Dedicated to Alexander and Louisine Tcherepnin.

WORKS OF THE 1940s

 

Etenraku (1940)
Brief description: Ifukube's first ballet. The score requires full orchestra, brass band, and choir. Written for the occasion of the 2600th anniversary of the founding of Japan. No available recordings.

Symphony Concertante for Piano and Orchestra (1941)
Brief description: Ifukube's first concerto. Three movements: Vivace meccanico, Lento con malincolia, Allegro barbaro. Premire was in Tokyo in 1942. Score was considered lost since the 1940s but was reconstructed in the mid-1990s.

Ballata Sinfonica (1943)
Brief description: Work for standard-size orchestra in two movements: Prima Ballata: Allegro capriccioso, Seconda Ballata: Andante rapsodico. Ballata Sinfonica received the Education Minister's Award. Dedicated to the composer's brother, Isao Ifukube.

 

Kishi Mai (1943)
Brief description: Naval march for wind orchestra inspired by the military exploits of Empress Jingu (196-264 AD).

Marche Triomphale (1943)
Brief description: Military march originally scored for orchestra. Reconstructed and arranged for wind orchestra in 2007 by Satoshi Imai.

 

Arctic Forest (1944)
Brief description: Orchestral tone poem in three movements: The Dimming of Light in the Forest (Andante tranquillo), Song of the Woodcutter (Moderato pastorale) and Mountain Wine Festival (Allegro rapsodico). Premiere was in Jilin Province, Manchuria in April 1945. Considered lost for decades, a copy of the score resurfaced in the 2000s.

 

Oberture Festiva "Sa Bago Filipinas" (1944)
Brief description: Work for orchestra and two pianos, commissioned by the Japanese government to celebrate Japan's annexation of The Philippines during World War II. Premiered in January 1944.

 

Prélude du soldat (1944)
Brief description: Military march for orchestra.

 

Ancient Minstrelsies of Gilyak Tribes (1946)
Brief description: Work for soprano and piano based on the aesthetics of Nivkh (Gilyak) music. Four movements: Ai ai gomteira, Burthen of a Virgin Gathering Huckleberries, Remote Rivage, Ballad of Seeing Men Leave for the Bear Sacrifice. In 1984, Ancient Minstrelsies was arranged for orchestra by Yashushi Akutagawa, Teizo Matsumura, Toshiro Mayuzumi and Sei Ikeno.

 

Egozaida (1947)
Brief description: "Modernist" ballet in which the principal dancer handles an icosehedron, a 20-sided geometric shape. Scored for solo piano. Premiered in Tokyo on December 1, 1947.

 

The Wandering People (1948)
Brief description: Ballet socred for solo piano. Premiered in Tokyo on October 31, 1948.

 

Rapsodia Concertante for Violin and Orchestra (1948, revised 1971)
Brief description: Also known as Violin Concerto no. 1, Rhapsodia Concertante has two movements: Adagio-Allegro and Vivace spirituoso. Ifukube revised the piece in 1951 and again in 1971. Première was in Tokyo in 1948.

 

Salome (1948, revised 1987)
Brief description: Ballet based on the biblical story of Salome. Believed lost for decades, the manuscript score was rediscovered in the mid-1980s. Ifukube revised the original score after its rediscovery. The original version was first performed in 1949. The revised version premiered in Tokyo in 1987.

 

Rhythmic Games for Children (1949)
Brief description: Composed to accompany physical exercise activites for elementary school children. Rhythmic Games is scored for a small orchestra and contains 10 brief movements, some of which are based on Japanese folk songs.

 

Enchanted Castle (1949)
Brief description: Ballet scored for full orchestra. Premiered in Tokyo on December 12, 1949.

 

Three Lullabies Among the Native Tribes on the Island of Sakhalin (1949)
Brief description: Work for soprano and piano, based on the music of the Evenki, Nivkh (Gilyak) and Orok peoples, all of whom are indigenous to the island of Sakhalin.

WORKS OF THE 1950s

 

Fire of Prometheus (1950)
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rief description: Ballet based on Greek mythology, premiered in December 1950. The original manuscript score was lost for decades but was rediscovered circa 2012.

 

The Drumming of Japan (1951, revised 1984)
Brief description: Ballet based on the famous Shishi Odori (Deer Dance) tradition from Iwate, which is located in the Tohoku region in northern Honshu. Ifukube arranged the score into a four movement concert suite in 1984.

 

Song of Obihiro (1952)
Brief description: Song commissioned by the town of Obihiro, Hokkaido. Ifukube lived in Obihiro briefly during his youth.

 

Upopo (1952)
Brief description: A jingle/station identfier written for the Hokkaido Broadcasting Company (HBC) based on an Ainu melody.

 

Shaka (1953)
Brief description: Ballet based on the life of Buddha.

 

Sinfonia Tapkaara (1954, revised 1979)
Brief description: Ifukube's one and only symphony, based on the Ainu Tapkaara dance. Three movements: Lento-Allegro, Adagio, Vivace. Premièred in December 1955 in Indianapolis. Dedicated to Atsushi Miura.

 

Deux caractères pour violon et piano (1955, revised 1961)
Brief description: Work for violin and piano. Written for Nap de Klijn and Alice Heksch, a husband-and-wife duo known as the Amsterdam Duo. Ifukube revised the score in 1961; this revised version was premièred by another husband-and-wife team, Shigetoshi Yamada and Reiko Yamada, in a 2008 recording.

 

Eclogues after Epos among Aino Races (1956)
Brief description: Work for soprano and four tuned timpani based on traditional Ainu recitations in three movements: Song of an Old Woman, Song of a Bird Dying in the Northern Sea, Dancing Song of a Young Girl and a Witch.

Fashan Jarbô (1956)
Brief description: Ballet in which Ifukube wrote the music, libretto and even designed the costumes. Based on the "Lamaist tale of Takue." Complete orchestral score is intact, however, the score is not available in any commercial recordings at this time.

Ode - The Sea of Okhotsk (1958)
Brief description: Scored for wind orchestra, low-pitched strings (no violins or violas) and choir. In 1988 Ifukube made an arrangement of this score for soprano, bassoon, contrabass and piano.

A Shanty of the Shiretoko Peninsula (1959)
Brief description: Work for soprano, solo bass and piano based on Ainu aesthetics.

WORKS OF THE 1960s

Fox's Sword Dance (1960)

 

A Shanty of the Shiretoko Peninsula (1960)

 

Ode to Hokkaido (1961)
Brief description: Work for orchestra and choir. Ifukube also made an arrangement for soprano and piano.

 

Ritmica Ostinata for Piano and Orchestra (1961)
Brief description: Concerto for piano and orchestra in one continuous movement. Ifukube employs rhythmic patterns of 5 and 7 beats to the measure throughout this pianistically demanding work, which is based on the rhythmic characteristics of traditional Japanese poetry. Premièred in October 1961 in Tokyo.

 

Symphonic Suite - The Little Prince and the 8-Headed Dragon (1964/2003)
Brief description: Ifukube wrote the celebrated score for one of the most famous anime films of all time, The Little Prince and the 8-Headed Dragon, in 1961. In 2003 he arranged the score into a multi-movement concert suite.

 

La Fontaine sacrée - (1964/2000)
Brief description: Work scored for soprano, viola, bassoon and harp. The melody is taken from the Sacred Fountain theme of the 1964 film, Mothra vs. Godzilla. The lyrics are in the Malay language.

 

Toka, Cantilena ballabile sul mode antico de Giappone (1967)
Brief description: Work for solo guitar dedicated to the composer's son, Kiwami.

 

Kugoka, Aria concertata di Kugo-Arpa (1969, revised 1989)
Brief description: Work for solo guitar, dedicated to Masaru Kono.

WORKS OF THE 1970s

Song of Otofuke (1970)
Brief description: Work for orchestra and choir, commissioned by the town of Otofuke. Ifukube lived in Otofuke during his childhood.

 

Toccata per chitarra (1970)
Brief description: Work for solo guitar, dedicated to Yasuo Abe.

 

26 Japanese Saints (1972)
Brief description: Ballet based on the true story of twenty-six Japanese Catholic missionaries who were executed by crucifiction in Nagasakai in 1597.

 

Rondo in Burlesque for Japanese drums and orchestra (1972, revised 1983)
Brief description: Work for orchestra and Japanese percussion based on march melodies from Ifukube's tokusatsu (special effect film) scores.

 

Eikyô Bintatara per per 16 strumenti di Giappone (1973)

 

Lauda Concertata for marimba and orchestra (1976)
Brief description: Concerto for marimba and orchestra. In 1981 it was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. Dedicated to Keiko Abe.

Concerto No. 2 for violin and orchestra (1978)
Brief description: Commissioned by Japanese violinist Takeshi Kobayashi. Premièred in Brno, Czechoslovakia.

 

Santa Maria (1978/2002)
Brief description: Ifukube's Santa Maria music first appeared in the film Lady Ogin in 1978. In 2002, Japanese harpsichorist Sumina Arihashi requested that Ifukube adapt his Santa Maria for harpsichord.

 

Mono Yu Mai, Monodie chorégraphique pour koto à vingt cordes (1979)

WORKS OF THE 1980s

Fantasia for Baroque Lute (1980)
Brief description: Work for solo lute, dedicated to Deborah Minkin.

Eglogue symphonique pour koto à vingt cordes et orchestra (1982)
Brief description: Concerto for 20-string koto and orchestra. Dedicated to Souju Nosaka.

 

Symphonic Fantasia Nos. 1, 2 and 3 (1983)
Brief description: Three concert suites based on the music of Ifukube's various daikaiju (giant monster) and tokusatsu (special effects) film scores.

 

Violin Sonata (1985)
Brief description: Work for violin and piano in three movements: Allegro, Cantilena-Andante, Allegro Vivace.

Symphonic Ode - Gotama the Buddha (1988, revised 1989)
Brief description: Work for orchestra and mixed choir in three movements: Siddhartha in the Kapilavastu Castle, Meditation at Bodh Gaya, Ode-Acintiya Buddha. The Symphonic Ode is a reworking of Ifukube music from the ballet Shaka (1953).

WORKS OF THE 1990s

Sound of Tomo - Orchestral Shinban (1990)
Brief description: Work scored for orchestra and traditional Japanese instruements, including nagauta-style vocals. Performed once during a 1990 broadcast of NHK radio.

 

Japanese Suite (1991)
Brief description: An orchestral arrangement of Ifukube's Piano Suite commissioned by the Suntory Music Foundation.

 

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah - Symphonic Fantasia (1991)
Brief description: Concert suite based on cues from Ifukube's score for the 1991 film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.

 

The Lake Kimtaankamuito (1992)
Brief description: Work for soprano, viola and piano or, at the suggestion of the composer, the piano can be replaced with a harp. The words sung in this piece are from a poem by the noted Ainu scholar, Genzo Sarashina. Kimtaankamuito is the mythical Ainu name for Lake Mashu in Hokkaido.

 

Kushiro Marshland (Symphonic Tableaux) (1993)
Brief description: Work for orchestra in four movements: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. Originally written to accompany a documentary about the Kushiro Marshland Park in Hokkaido.

Five Poems after Inaba Manyo (1994)
Brief description: Work for soprano, alto-flute and a 25-string koto. Commissioned by the town of Kokufu in Tottori.994, Ifukube was commissioned to write Five Poems after Inaba Manyo by the town o

 

Chant de la sérinde (1997)
Brief description: Work for 25-string koto based on the Sacred Fountain theme from the 1964 film Mothra vs. Godzilla.

 

Pipa Xing (1999)
Brief description: Work for 25-string koto commissioned by Souju Nosaka. Based on a poem by Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi (772-846 AD).

WORKS OF THE 2000s

Ao Saghi (2000)
Brief description: Work for soprano, oboe, piano, contrabass.

 

Petite Romance pour Clavecin (2002)
Brief description: This work for harpsichord, which was requested by harpsichordist Sumina Arihashi, is based on motifs from his score for the 1966 samurai film, Nemuri Kyoshiro 7: Tajo-ken.

Fantasia Shiyaanlulu (2006)

© Erik Homenick. All rights reserved.