01 May 2008

MAESTRO: Joe Hisaishi

Joe Hisaishi, or his real name Mamoru Fujisawa, is one of the best-known Japanese composer locally and abroad. His talent of composing musical pieces as well as performing, and conducting has earn himself a place among the top composers in the world.


Those who're Japanese animation fans would be familiar with Studio Ghibli's films, especially those works of Miyazaki Hayao 宫崎骏. His notable works including My Neighbour Totoro, Laputa: Castle in The Sky, Spirited Away & Howl's Moving Castle. Behind the animations, there's a genius composer who compose the music used in the animation.

spirited away

Joe himself plays the piano and violin, he's familiar playing with the notes, and of course he's a genius of putting the notes together to become a fantastic score for the animation or movie. All his compositions suit the anime and movie so well, as if the video and the music is synched together. Oh by the way, he's been composing great music since the 80s, and still going strong today!

I shall let Mr Hisaishi's music speak for his reputation.

The first video I show you here is a medley of his compositions from "Laputa; Castle in The Sky". Joe Hisaishi himself is conducting the orchestra, so we can see the maestro himself in action! I particularly like the 2nd part they played, the theme for the anime, which I love a lot.

Here's a video of Joe Hisaishi playing a piano solo piece called "Summer". This video is one of the top 3 most viewed videos on Youtube searching for his name. This is a lively piece, really brings out the feeling of enjoying a fine summer day.

"The Path of Wind" is actually a background music used in "My Neighbour Totoro" anime. Those who watch the anime before should be familiar with this tune, or maybe they've forgotten it because the anime has been around for over 20 years. This version shows Joe on the piano tagged by a cellist.

You can compare the above video with this one, also the same song but this is the orchestral version. I find that this orchestral version is the best of all versions I've heard.

This is a recent work of Joe Hisaishi, "Asian X.T.C." Weird name huh? Listen to his work then, a nice blend of various instruments together. Another genius' work! It's uncommon to see western instruments can fuse so well together with oriental instruments, like the erhu 二胡 and guzheng 古筝.

This song "Asian Dream Song", is one of my favourite of all. 1 piano VS 9 cellos, I've said that cello is best to be paired up with piano, and here we witness how well it worked out combining all 10 instruments. :)

Hmm..... so far I haven't got any news of his latest compositions. I read he's composing the songs for a Korean drama, and I'm not so sure bout that. But one thing I'm sure is that it must be another masterpiece by Joe Hisaishi.

He has lots of fans in East Asia, and also extended fans in France and other parts of the world. He's one of the rare kind of musician who didn't get noticed by the mainstream media. His work, undoubtedly, can be as great as those nominated for Grammy Awards or equivalent achievement benchmarks.

Well well, who's next on my MAESTRO list? Ah.... another Japanese, Nobuo Uematsu!

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