Ryuichi Sakamoto, a well-known composer who won an Oscar for his work on The Last Emperor movie soundtrack, sadly passed away on March 28th at the age of 71. His Twitter account announced his death two days later on April 2nd.
The original Twitter post showed a picture of legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto with two dates – the day he was born and the day he died. Afterwards, his management company posted a message explaining that Sakamoto had been fighting cancer since June 2020. Despite being unwell, he still worked hard on music in his home studio. The last words of the post shared one of Sakamoto’s favorite quotes; “Ars longa, vita brevis” which means “Art is long, life is short.”
Sakamoto grew up in Tokyo and developed an interest in music from different parts of the world, such as Japan’s Okinawa prefecture, India and Africa. Together with fellow musicians Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, he started a band called YMO in 1978 which became popular because it blended electronic beats into their songs.
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Remembering the Work of the Legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto
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In the Western world, Sakamoto is well-known for making movie music. His most popular work was made for a 1987 film called The Last Emperor. It’s a story about Puyi, who was the last emperor of China. This movie and its soundtrack were so good that it won nine awards! These include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score at the Oscars, plus Golden Globe and Grammy Awards. The soundtrack of The Last Emperor is still very famous and highly regarded today.
In 1983, Sakamoto composed the music for the movie “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”. It was a war film directed by Nagisa Ōshima and featured David Bowie as well as Sakamoto himself in his first acting role. Because of this movie, he even won an award called the BAFTA for the best film music! The most popular song from it was “Forbidden Colours,” which later turned into one of its biggest hits on an international level.
Throughout his career, Ryuichi Sakamoto worked with famous directors such as Oliver Stone, Pedro Almodóvar and Brian de Palma. In recent years, he created the theme song for Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s movie “Babel”. With Iñarritu again in 2015, they together composed a score for the film “The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and German composer Alva Noto. This masterpiece won three Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and some BAFTAs. Sakamoto and Noto also received multiple nominations for BAFTAs and Golden Globes for their work.
This is a sad announcement. Artist and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto passed away on March 28th, 2023. He was 71 years old. You can listen to one of his famous works in the trailer for The Last Emperor below.