Joe Hisaishi is one of the greatest composers of our time, and certainly among the best loved of the aficionados of fantasy, science fiction, anime and adventure film genres. Western audiences have been hearing and being enthralled by his music for decades often without knowing who had created this particular brand of magic.
Joe Hisaishi was born December 6, 1950 in Nakano, Nagano, Japan as Mamoru Fujisawa. He discovered his love of music early, starting violin lessons at age five. He attended the Kunitachi College of Music in 1969 to major in music composition. His earliest work in animation was 1974 for a short subject called Gyatoruzu.
His first album, MKWAJU, was released in 1981, with Information being released a year later. His first major anime scores were Hajime Ningen Gyatoruz (1974) and Robokko Beeton (1976).
As his works were becoming well known, Hisaishi formulated an alias inspired by Quincy Jones, an African-American musician and producer. Retranscribed in Japanese, “Quincy Jones” became “Joe Hisaishi.” (“Quincy,” pronounced “Kuishi” in Japanese, can be written using the same kanji in “Hisaishi”; “Joe” comes from “Jones.”)
In 1983 he was put together with famed director Hayao Miyazaki, and this is where most of us begin our long friendship with this creative genius. The first film he was to score would be Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In 1986, he wrote the sound track for Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and later, in the 1990s, the scores for Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away – and in fact went on to create the sound tracks for every Mayizaki film to date. Hisaishi’s work is synonymous with that of Mayizaki’s and as much as the visuals, story lines and unforgettable characters, defines the Miyazaki anime experience.
In November 2009, he was awarded with a Medal of Honour with purple ribbon by the Government of Japan. Listen for his work on SCIFI.radio.
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