Toshiro Mayuzumi was born in Yokohama in 1929. He studied at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music with Kunihiko Hashimoto from 1945-1951 and spent the following year at the Paris Conservatory studying under Tony Aubin.
Once known primarily for his avant-garde pieces, he clearly expressed an inclination to return to compositions centering on themes of Japanese traditions and Buddhism when he wrote Nirvana Symphony in 1959. That work, awarded the Otaka Prize, was performed in Music From Japan’s 1979 debut Carnegie Hall concert. He then wrote pieces with themes from Buddhism, such as Sange & Smitanbai (1959) from Tendai Buddhist hymns, Mandala Symphony (1960), the symphonic poem Samsara (1962), and the Buddhist cantata Pratdesana (1963).
Bungaku, commissioned by the New York City Ballet, garnered him another Otaka Prize in 1962. In 1976, he composed Kinkakuji, an opera commissioned by the Deutsche Oper Berlin. He has written music for theatrical works by, among others, Kobo Abe and Yukio Mishima.
Mr. Mayuzumi has become a familiar presence to many outside of the classical music field through Untitled Concert, an Asahi Network Television Program he hosted for over 20 years. He has enriched the medium of film through his music for The Bible (1965) and for movies by such eminent directors as Keisuke Kinoshita, Shohei Imamura and Kon Ichikawa. Mr. Mayuzumi received Japan’s Mainichi Award for his score of Tokyo Olympics. In September 1988, Mr. Mayuzumi was appointed chairman of the Japan Federation of Composers. He died in Kawasaki in 1997.