Takemitsu [1930 - 1996] - November Steps 
"In his early career, Takemitsu had been reluctant to make use of traditional Japanese music in his compositions, as he said this music 'always recalled the bitter memories of war.' He began experimenting with traditional Japanese instruments in the early 1960s, using them in the soundtrack to Masaki Kobayashi's 1962 film, Harakiri. Other film soundtracks in which Takemitsu used traditional instruments include Shinoda's Assassination and Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (both 1964). Takemitsu's first concert composition for traditional Japanese musical instruments was Eclipse (1966) for the biwa performer, Kinshi Tsuruta, and the shakuhachi player, Katsuya Yokoyama. When Seiji Ozawa played Leonard Bernstein a tape of Eclipse, Bernstein suggested combining the instruments in a composition with the western orchestra.
Of the title to November Steps, Takemitsu offered two explanations. Taking a literal view of the title, he wrote, 'It was performed in November, and to me that project represented a new step: thus, I titled the work November Steps.' He further explained, 'In Japanese music, danmono are the equivalent of western variations, and the word dan means step. My 'November Steps' are a set of eleven variations.'
Saito Kinen Orchestra
Seiji Ozawa, Conductor
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