Daisuke Takahashi: Sonatina for Hope

Daisuke Takahashi performing Sonatina for Violin

By Vladislav Luchianov

Just a few days have passed after a triumphant performance of Daisuke Takahashi in his short program at 2013 NHK Trophy.

Many call this performance as one of the best in the career of this famous Japanese figure skater. 

Actually, it is so but not only new personal best score matters here.

When he finished, I drew attention to the expression on his face – it’s still kept the drama of the program for some time. Yes, of course, he was very happy with the brilliant performance. But I think that Daisuke was also experiencing very strong emotions from the fact that he was able to maximize the success not only by doing perfectly all the technical staff but also by conveying the deepest thoughts of a composer of his short program – Mamoru Samuragochi.

I’m also confident that Japanese spectators, who watched the entire program holding the breath, have also realized what Daisuke and his inspirer Mr. Samuragochi wanted to tell them.

His program is called Sonatina for Violin choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto and I think that will not be wrong saying that most of our readers (non-Japanese) are unlikely to have heard the name of the composer, who wrote this creation. Probably even fewer people know about a very difficult and dramatic history of Mr. Mamoru Samuragochi.

Born in Hiroshima, Samuragochi was so precocious that, at age 5, as his mother tells him, he was creating compositions for the marimba (a musical instrument in the percussion family). Samuragochi himself remembers composing his own music at age 10. Although he studied piano as a child, he didn’t have much formal training and taught himself to compose.

He is a traditionalist and an admirer of such Western composers as Beethoven and Mozart, and he is dismissive of modern, atonal music. “I like harmony. Sometimes I think I was born at the wrong time.” he said once TIME magazine.

Mamoru Samuragochi
Mamoru Samuragochi 

At 24, he was found to have a severe hearing disability, and today he is completely deaf in his left ear and can hear only slightly with the help of a hearing aid in his right.

Mr. Samuragochi struggled in obscurity for many years. Instead of composing music for TV dramas that he considered unwatchable, he supported himself by working part time as a video-store clerk and a street sweeper. He finally broke through with the chance to compose the score for a TV film, Cosmos, and then for many video games.

Two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Samuragochi’s Symphony No. 1 “Hiroshima”, which has been called “Symphony for Hope”, is making a big stir in the stricken areas and throughout Japan, giving a hope for millions of Japan’s people.

The symphony was completed in 2003. When a TV documentary about the work and the composer’s life was broadcasted in the fall of 2012, it immediately made a huge impact. The composer gained the long-deserved recognition.

Daisuke Takahashi, NHK Trophy

When Mr. Samuragochi heard the news that Daisuke want to use his music for a figure skating program, he was dumbfounded. The composer was not interested in the sport at all. But he was not against the wish of Daisuke to use the music. He only said that the athlete needs to know that this symphony is a song of battle. Daisuke commented that despite all dramatism, there is also a hope in the melody.

A hope… That’s the keyword! In Sonata for Violin, Daisuke fully met the expectations of the composer. In the program he not only expresses all the pain of the Japanese people passed through the terrible ordeal of Hiroshima, tsunamis and other disasters, but he also shows that despite all the troubles there is a hope in this world.

That’s why I consider Takahashi’s programs – present or any past one, no matter – as a real, valuable and true art. Any his performance is always a special message, which he brings into every heart ready to accept it. And that’s priceless!

Photo: Zimbio, Columbia.jp

Special thanks to my WFS Japan manager & administrator Yacchi for a great help.

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