Somei Satoh

Somei Satoh

Somei Satoh was born in Japan in 1947 and currently lives in Tokyo. Largely self-taught as a composer he came to musical creation through the spiritual exercises of both Shintoism and Zen Buddhism. In early 1970s, after his attending the Nihon University of Art, Satoh joined the Tone Field performance group, an experimental inter-arts ensemble which performed his earliest composition.

These early compositions include those for solo piano or for piano with electronics in which he explored gradations of sound by employing tremolos of single tones or clusters using the instrument’s various registers of dynamics. In some ways, Satoh’s techniques and career path paralleled those of the American minimalists.

His music, like theirs, has developed in complexity and sophistication over the years. Over the course of the 1970s, his instrumental palette diversified and his music took on a greater melodiousness. By the 1980s, his music became more sensual after the model of the Romantic tradition.

A visiting artist grant from the Asian Cultural Council enabled him to spend a year in the United States in 1983. Eventually, he received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can, and the New York Philharmonic, among others. Currently, Satoh tends to focus his work on large orchestral forces. His compositions have been recorded for New Albion, Lovely Music, Mode, and Alm.

Somei Satoh: From the Depth of Silence: Orchestral Works (mode 135)