In Homage to 400 years of friendship between Holland and Japan

I was ten years old when I heard Beethoven's 9th symphony for the first time. The experience was like the gods talking to me. The combined melodies murmured and then suddenly transformed to freedom and light, and this made a profound impact on me as a young boy. In the midst of my tears I made a resolution. If it is possible to create something so immense from “nothing”, it would be worth sacrificing an entire life to conquering the world of composition: I wanted to become a composer.

The university of arts where I enrolled to realise my dreams, let me down badly. I was greeted by the chaotic world of fashionable modern music: electronic music and chance compositions. The fashion was for disorganised and senseless music. You couldn't find sounds deriving from the empire of the spirit. I realised that a career as a conductor was also appealing, enabling me to escape this world of mock music, and so I became a conductor instead. However, I did not lose my ambitions as a composer.

Thus I accepted the commission from my colleague at Yakult, Kurod Yoshinara, to compose a work for the 400th friendship anniversary between Holland and Japan. I hoped I would succeed in writing a work that pleased many. I felt that if I wanted my work to win over a mass audience, I should not write music with a destructive mood. If a conductor writes a work, it immediately becomes interesting but that is not sufficient. I pondered how I could express the longstanding relationship between Holland and Japan. I tortured myself at length with this task but after two years, a small idea was born which now forms the basis for the Passacaglia.
The two themes of the work (A: Dutch, B: Japanese) appear separately, and then change their forms bit by bit, before finally being heard at the end together resoundingly. The pealing of bells evokes the tragedies of the past – for example the impotent sadness of the wars and the atomic bomb – while the organ depicts the devotion of people liberated from the horrors


The structure of the work:

A Dutch theme
A1 Elegy B Japanese theme
A2 sensuality B1 close of theme
A3 fugue (tragedy) B2 summer festival
A4 madness (painful fight) B3 (prayer for peace)
A5 B4 fanfare (prayer for the future)
A6 B5 end

There is no greater happiness for a composer than if his work can touch as many hearts as possible.


Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi

100 évesek vagyunk