Japanese electronic music legend Isao Tomita dies at 84
On May 5, 2016, hugely influential Japanese composer Isao Tomita died from a cardiac failure at the age of 84. Back in the 1960s, Tomita introduced analog synthesis to Japan by importing a Moog III. A classically trained composer, Tomita saw the potential for analog synthesizers to not only mimic acoustic instruments, but to also create entirely new sounds that were never possible before.
In 1974, Tomita released the album Snowflakes Are Dancing, a recreation of impressionist pieces by French composer Claude DeBussy’s using analog synthesis, which led to him being the first Japanese artist to be nominated for a Grammy. As one of the earliest and most innovative attempts at recreating the sounds of an orchestra with synthesizers, it did a great deal in showing the world what was possible with synthesis and therefore was highly influential in the following decades.
Tomita led a very long and successful career in the music industry, and was in the midst of working on a new musical titled “Dr. Coppelius” when he passed away. He was aware that his time was running short, and said that he wanted to finish enough of it so that the musical could be finished by someone else if his health worsened. Whether it will be finished is not currently known, though it would be no easy task to fill those shoes.