Radio Broadcast on his anniversary 29 January 2009
Live performance of Hiroaki's High School Band JCSB Recordings of two songs Toorisugita Ai and
Minato No Yoko Yokohama Yokosukaperformed in 1975 in Asahikawa Hokkaido
Download in Publications.
Invitation for pianists to perform Hiroaki's earlier work Scherzo Further information here
Hiroaki Zakoji was born in Tokyo on the 20th of January 1958. He was brought up in Hokkaido from the age of 4 and lived there until he was 20 years old. He started learning to play the piano when he was 4 years old. From the age of 16, he studied composition under Masanobu Kimura. In 1978, he entered the Music Department of Nihon University in Tokyo and transferred to Kiyohiko Kijima, piano under Midori Matsuya (1943-94). At the same time, he also studied composition under renowned composer, Roh Ogura (1916-90) in Kamakura. He graduated from University and entered the Music Institute of Nihon University in 1982. In the same year, he organised Tokyo Shin-Wagaku Consort which regularly performed his own and other contemporary composers' works. In 1984, he travelled to Basel, Switzerland and performed Japanese contemporary works, including his own. The next year, he was invited by IGNM (Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik) and performed his Piano Piece I (Op.28) in Basel. He returned to Switzerland in 1986, where he composed and performed his Piano Piece III (Op.36). Subsequently, he travelled to Spain and Denmark and wrote an essay for a music journal. Composition II (Op.11) and Composition III (Op.13) were broadcast by a Spanish radio station. In June 1986, he was one of the finalists in the Buddhist International Music Competition in Tokyo and his work Continuum (Op.18) was given its first performance by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under
Hiroyuki Iwaki (1932-2006).
Hiroaki died just 9 days after his 29th birthday by acute cardiac failure on the 29th of January 1987 in Tokyo. He left 38 works in his short life of 29 years and 9 days. All his scores and some music tapes are preserved in the Documentation Centre for Modern Japanese Music in Tokyo.
Etsuko Zakoji, Hiroaki´s wife wrote:
Hiroaki was somebody very special, very talented and premature. On one hand, he had got a nature which was very contemplative as it is reflected in many of his works. His premature interest in death, philosophy and Buddhism was uncommon for young men of his age. On the other hand, he was quite a sportsman who loved skiing. He was a joyful fellow who loved joking. His sense of humour and unique character won a lot of friends. Almost 300 people arrived to pay their respects at his funeral ceremony. This was a sheer proof of his beloved character. Art is cruel and merciless..! Art demands sacrifice…! A talented young man’s life was snatched by death, but Hiroaki’s music is perpetuated and he continues living in the mind of people who loved him. May Hiroaki’s music live forever!
Hiroaki not only had this wonderful technical accomplishment, but he also had wit. For example, the work in his suite for piano,
"Piano Piece III", dedicated to Mozart. It has all the Mozartian qualities but is essentially Zakoji. He was a brilliant pianist...
...Hiroaki's work is the equal of any other Japanese composer, however well-known, and more versatile than most...
His work was unique because, despite its essentially contemporary style it owed nothing to any particular fad or fashion and thus was outside the mainstream of contemporary composers. His material was the product of an exquisite inner ear and it was treated with Mozartian integrity. It also embodied traditional Japanese concepts; hence he was able to compose with equal readiness for chamber group, synths, symphony orchestra or traditional instruments.