9) Toru Takemitsu: How Slow the Wind | Top 10 – Modern Classical Music

In this series of articles, I offer a top 10 list of my favorite works of modern classical music, focusing on orchestral pieces composed during the last 25 years.


When I was studying composition at the University of Montreal, one of the flagship courses in the bachelor’s program was called Modern Composition Techniques, and was taught by Jose Evangelista. We analyzed hundreds of modern works. Among them was How Slow the Wind, by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930–1996), and I found it especially fascinating. It is a piece that I have continued to listen to frequently.

How Slow the Wind is an orchestral work that reminds me a great deal of the musical impressionism of Claude Debussy, with an Eastern flavor that is characteristic of Takemitsu. I also hear some echoes of Debussy’s famous Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The dense orchestration, lush and refined, takes us into a fascinating world of sound.

In this piece, Takemitsu introduces a simple melody that we hear from the first bars and that is repeated over and over. It feels almost like the work is static, as if it were a sculpture that we walk around in order to appreciate its various facets.


Title: How Slow the Wind
Composer: Toru Takemitsu
Year of composition: 1991
Structure: Work in 1 movement
Playing time: 11 min

This piece is also available on Spotify and iTunes.

What do you think?

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts about this work by Toru Takemitsu. Did you like it?

The ranking continues next week with the 8th place entry in this top 10.

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