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TONEPLEROMAS 55 For Wind Ensemble by TOSHIRO MAYUZUMI (Japan, 1929 - 1997)

[#103] July 12, 2021

1955 | Wind Ensemble | Grade 6 | 10’-15’ | Contemporary

Japanese composer Toshiro Mayuzumi

Tonepleromas 55 by Japanese composer Toshiro Mayuzumi is our Composition of the Week.

Tonepleromas 55, composed in 1955, was first performed by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra during the same year with Mayuzumi conducting. The word "tonepleromas" in the title, coined by Varèse, means the method of grouping musical sounds into the so-called "toneclusters." Mayuzumi wrote about this in his program notes for the first performance:

"Although we cannot find the “tonepleromas” to which Varèse refers in any established vocabulary, 'pleroma' means the state of being filled with solemnity and vigor . . . As I sense that new art will be born in the realm of electronic music and musique concrète, and I am absorbed in searching for it, I feel considerable pain in composing works to be played in concerts by a standard orchestra . . . Totally disappointed with the results, I found Varèse standing in front of me . . . Therefore, I do not employ a standard orchestra for this work, either. The accumulated energy that is emitted by the ensemble of wind instruments using human breath and percussion instruments essentially depending on the players' manual attacks best agrees with what Varèse meant by 'pleroma' and should be effective."

Tonepleromas 55 calls for the following instrumentation

3343.ASx (2)TnSx(1)BarSax(1)/4531.Percu (6).Musical Saw.Piano

Besides this work, Toshiro Mayuzumi wrote several other pieces for wind ensemble, most of them dedicated to Robert Austin Boudreau and the American Wind Symphony.

Among these works we can find “Music with Sculpture” (1961), “Textures” (1962), “Fireworks” (1963), and “Concerto for Percussion” (1966).

Interestingly, Mayuzumi wrote a second version of Tonepleromas 55, also for the American Wind Symphony, changing the instrumentation and the title, which he called Ritual Ouverture, but without making substantial changes in its musical content.

Both versions are published by Peters and have a duration of 12 minutes.

Toshiro Mayuzumi was born in Yokohama in 1929. He studied at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music with Kunihiko Hashimoto from 1945 to 1951 and spent the following year at the Paris Conservatory studying under Tony Aubin.

Toshiro Mayuzumi has become a familiar presence to many outside of the classical music field through “Untitled Concert”, an Asahi Network Television Program he hosted for over 20 years. He has enriched the medium of film through his music for The Bible (1965) and for movies by such eminent directors as Keisuke Kinoshita, Shohei Imamura and Kon Ichikawa. He received Japan’s Mainichi Award for his score of Tokyo Olympics. In September 1988, Mr. Mayuzumi was appointed chairman of the Japan Federation of Composers. He died in Kawasaki in 1997.


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