Japanese composer was a favourite of modern day producers.
The Japan Times reports that Isao Tomita, a synthesizer pioneer and revered composer, died of heart failure Thursday at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital at the age of 84.
Tomita leaves behind a large body of work including over 20 studio albums, the score to Tezuka Osamu’s anime Kimba the White Lion and more.
On Sunday last week, Tomita’s official Facebook page had shared an update on a new musical the composer was working on titled Dr. Coppelius but hinted that Tomita might not live to see its completion.
Speaking to The Japan Times last December, Tomita had said “my priority right now is staying healthy, but I’d like to finish ‘Dr. Coppelius’ as much as possible so that, even if something happens to me, others could finish it.”
Tomita’s impact on Japanese and modern music stretches from Yellow Magic Orchestra to Flying Lotus. After importing a Moog III synthesizer to Japan in 1971 he began to focus on using the new instruments to replace classic ones leading to the Snowflakes Are Dancing album which was his first international success, topping the Billboard’s classic music charts in 1974 and making him the first Japanese nominated for a Grammy award (he was nominated for four in total). The album featured arrangements of Debussy’s tone paintings and became a sampling favourite.
Dr. Coppelius is a project that Tomita dedicated to his friend Hideo Itokawa, the father of Japanese rocketry, and it was scheduled to be performed in Shibuya on November 11 and 12 featuring a 3D hologram of Hatsune Miku thus fulfilling Itokawa’s dream of creating a ballet dancing hologram.
A private funeral for Tomita was attended this weekend by close family members.