Oscar-winning musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto battling stage 4 cancer

  • Ryuichi Sakamoto recently revealed that he underwent surgery to treat cancer that had spread to both of his lungs.
  • Sakamoto pioneered the use of synthesizers as the keyboardist for the Yellow Magic Orchestra.
  • As a composer, Sakamoto was inspired by artists like Claude Debussy to create expressive and impressionistic pieces.
  • His score for the 1987 film, “The Last Emperor,” earned him an Oscar for Best Original Score.
  • Sakamoto has vowed to keep pursuing his artistic endeavors until the end of his life.

Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has revealed that he recently underwent surgery to treat cancer that had spread to both of his lungs.

Sakamoto detailed his diagnosis in an article titled “Living with Cancer,” published on Tuesday by monthly literary magazine “Shincho.”

Throughout a career that has spanned decades, Sakamoto refused to be confined to a single sonic aesthetic. 

As the keyboardist for the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Sakamoto pioneered the use of synthesizers to create an eclectic groove, which would go on to inspire the electropop boom of the 80s. The group’s music also had a satirical edge, using exotic-sounding chords to poke fun at notions of “Asianess” through the Western gaze.

As a film composer, his music took a turn for the introspective. Having cited Claude Debussy as one of his greatest influences, Sakamoto’s pieces exude a deeply expressive and ethereal quality that harken back to the soundscapes of French Impressionism.

Sakamoto’s most famous themes and melodies appear in the soundtrack to the 1987 film, “The Last Emperor,” which earned him an Oscar for Best Original Score.

Even now, at 70 years old, Sakamoto vowed to keep pursuing his artistic endeavors.

“Since I have made it this far in life, I hope to be able to make music until my last moment,” said Sakamoto.

 

Feature Image via Ryuichi Sakamoto

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