Oscar-Winning Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto Dies At 71

NPR reports:

Ryuichi Sakamoto, a trailblazing composer and producer who was one of the first musicians to incorporate electronic production into popular songcraft, has died at the age of 71.

Sakamoto died on March 28 after a multi-year battle with cancer, according to a statement published on his website Sunday. “We would like to share one of Sakamoto’s favorite quotes,” the statement read. “‘Ars longa, vita brevis.’ Art is long, life is short.”

The Japanese composer had an exceptionally wide-ranging career: he was by turns a synth-pop idol, the composer of both sweeping film scores and quiet, gentle sound environments, and a collaborator of such artists as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Variety reports:

Sakamoto also acted; he co-starred with David Bowie in 1983’s “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,” the story of a British colonel who tries to make peace between a Japanese camp commander, played by Sakamoto, and a British P.O.W., played by Bowie.

He also appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor,” winning an Oscar and Golden Globe for his score with David Byrne and Cong Su.

Other films he scored included Brian de Palma’s “Femme Fatale” and “Snake Eyes,” Pedro Almodovar’s “High Heels,” Bertolucci’s “The Little Buddha” and “The Sheltering Sky” and Oliver Stone’s mini-series “Wild Palms.” He contributed several pieces to Gustavo Santaolalla’s soundtrack of “Babel,” which won the Oscar.

I’ve been a huge fan of Sakamoto going back to his early days with the groundbreaking electronic group, the Yellow Magic Orchestra. Some of my favorites are below.