Toshio Hosokawa

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Toshio Hosokawa was granted the fifth Roche Commissions award in 2008. His composition, “Woven Dreams”, had its world premiere in Lucerne on August 28, 2010.

Toshio Hosokawa was born in Hiroshima in 1955 and now lives in Nagano. He studied with Yun from 1976 to 1982 and with Klaus Huber from 1983 to 1986. He began to explore the Japanese musical tradition after a period of focus on European music. His compositions cover orchestral works, solo concertos, chamber music, pieces for traditional Japanese instruments and film scores.

“our audience consists of all people”

When the Roche Commissions are awarded, it also always includes visitation to the Roche facilities. The goal here is not only to introduce the company to the composer; even more, it’s to trigger a dialogue between art and science which can be mutually beneficial. When Toshio Hosokawa received the fifth of the Roche Commissions in the summer of 2008, he visited the Roche Headquarters in Basel. This encounter was continued in the spring of 2010 in the form of a discussion between Toshio Hosokawa and Jacky Vonderscher, Head of Translational Research Sciences at Roche. Their conversation took place on March 8, 2010 in Basel.

An excerpt from the conversation:

Toshio Hosokawa: There are forms of innovation that move away from their human origins. But it is also possible for innovation to seek human substance, to strive for genuine nature. It is this type of innovation that I pursue. Nowadays I live in Tokyo, and its society is like a stone. There seems to be no profound innovation with today’s globalization; culture either is the same or is becoming the same everywhere. European and American ways of thinking were introduced into Japan around 150 years ago, and we took them up very rapidly, compressing perhaps a thousand years of history into 100 years. In the process, we have achieved great economic success, but at the same time we have lost our Japanese soul. This is the contradiction in which I live. And that is very difficult for me to endure. Likewise, in terms of music, the earliest European influences arrived in Japan perhaps only 150 years ago; beforehand the musical traditions had been completely different. And now the danger is that everything starts to sound the same. My Japanese colleagues write new music like European composers. Often they are imitations, copies of the most novel things; but they don’t try to develop their own music.

Jacky Vonderscher: Well, now you are addressing a topic which is also extremely interesting to us scientists. There are indeed innovations in our field as well; innovations move us forward. But you can distinguish between two types of innovation: one is stepwise, while the other type of innovation proceeds by leaps and bounds. The first is comparable to the sort of imitation you mentioned, in that it involves little in the way of improvements. But genuine innovation for the most part happens from outside; what enables it is a way of thinking which presses beyond the usual limits. Suddenly someone comes along who thinks in a totally different way – and then a leap happens, a genuine innovation. My question has always been: How can we encourage innovation?

Read the full conversation in the publication...