Ryuichi Sakamoto

The celebrated Japanese composer reveals the oddly shaped edges of his constantly questing mind.

“Every time it rains, I open the window and put the recorder outside.”

Ryuichi Sakamoto is fascinated by the strange sounds made by a piano that survived the 2011 earthquake and tsunami on Japan’s eastern seaboard, despite its being thrown about by the water. “I felt as if I was playing the corpse of a piano that had drowned,” he says in Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, a 2017 documentary about his life and work. This fascination is unsurprising, as it serves as an embodiment of many of his passions and predilections, including his endless curiosity for undiscovered sounds, his support for environmental issues and his acute awareness of and sensitivity toward the mortality of all living things—including the planet.

As the first snow of the season fell on lower Manhattan, Sakamoto, the Academy Award–winning composer of such film scores as The Revenant and ...

ISSUE 52

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