Mutsuo Shishido


World Premiere Recordings



“Yura does an astounding job of bringing this wonderful composer to our attention with her fantastic playing. These are interesting pieces. The ‘Toccata’, rooted in its conventional form, is worked out wonderfully. The playing is first rate, full of sensitive nuances... I find the Suite de Danses utterly fascinating, as they have a visual vibrant quality to them and drama... the piano sonatas both have simple, accessible language. I am glad to have discovered this wonderful composer, along with Yura’s fantastic playing.”
Kang, American Record Guide [July/August 2018]
“I cannot imagine a better advocate for this music than the wonderful young pianist Akina Yura... Much of this music requires fingers of steel and great agility, and Yura pours it on... this is music that should be of interest to any fancier of 20th-century piano repertoire.”
Peter Burwasser, Fanfare [May/June 2018]
"Everything on the CD is a world première recording, and everything is handled by Yura with sensitivity..."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [February 2018]
The career of composer Mutsuo Shishido (1929-2007) spanned many of the dynamic social changes of twentieth century Japan. Having studied in Paris and surrounded by the values and growing influence of Western contemporary classical music, Shishido lived and grappled with a bi-cultural identity. He was exposed to a wealth of musical ideas and philosophies from both Japanese and Western Classical European traditions, and thus strove to create his own sound reflective of these roots. Although this attitude was common among his contemporaries and can be traced back to the composers of the previous generations, Shishido’s music remains uniquely his own.

Shishido’s first role model was his teacher, the Japanese composer Tomojirō Ikenouchi. Being a son of a famous poet and a poet himself, Ikenouchi was highly charismatic and a perfectionist craftsman, known for his establishment of pedagogy in a French-based écriture school in Japan. Shishido studied with Ikenouchi from 1948 to 1953, after which he moved to Paris to continue his compositional studies. His life in cosmopolitan Paris as well as his interactions with teachers André Jolivet (1905-1974) and Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) raised Shishido’s awareness of his own Japanese identity. While maintaining both fundamental and modernist techniques of Western composition, Shishido started to explore, expose, and develop lesser-known Japanese primitive folk elements into his music. Throughout his career, Shishido continued to mention his attempts of imbuing his compositions with “Japanese nationality.”

After his permanent return to Japan in 1961, Shishido was an active member of the Shinshin kai, a group of composers led by Ikenouchi. Surrounded by his contemporaries who pursued diverse compositional approaches, Shishido thrived by seeking his own musical ideals through his piano concertos, choral works, and solo piano works. He spoke frequently about his interest in the primitive, simple, and primal part of everyday folk culture, such as vernacular tunes bearing their origins in small local villages. Acknowledging Bartók as his inspiration in this approach, Shishido was fascinated by regionally inherited local songs, especially those that utilized percussion instruments. He believed his job was to capture the essence of these lesser-known folk melodies by dismantling them from local forms and transforming them into a contemporary music idiom suitable for international audiences. Through such revival, Shishido sought to contribute to the development and discovery of Japanese culture.

Remaining an active composer after the 1950s and inevitably involving himself in discussions of modernist ideas, Shishido often defended his conservative position in favor of tradition. Occasionally, he described some contemporary art as “hysterical” and even stated that twelve-tone music does not have persona, and was thus worthless. On the other hand, he praised classical compositions, especially those of Beethoven, which he described as “full of simplicity yet glorious” and having universal appeal. While struggling under the pressure to exhibit a distinct personality as a contemporary composer, Shishido aspired to write universally appealing yet original compositions while incorporating contemporary compositional techniques. In addition, he strove to explore new ways to develop music with a Japanese humanistic idiom. He believed such music would not necessarily sound strictly Japanese, but would be healthy, majestic without abnormality, and international so as to speak to all human beings regardless of their background.

* * *
Having written more for the piano than for any other instrument as a solo instrument, the piano works play a prominent role in Shishido’s compositional oeuvre. They feature a wide range of technical challenges, as the purpose of his music was not always solely for artistic expression: Shishido regarded both of his professional roles as a composer and as an educator with equal importance. He taught at numerous institutions including Tōhō College of Music, Tōhō Junior College of Music, Tokyo Gakugei University, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, and Senzoku Gakuen College of Music. In addition, Shishido mentored younger aspiring composition students to develop their composition fundamentals and prepare them for conservatory study. Hence, a significant portion of his piano works was commissioned for Japanese pedagogical publications, reflecting his role as an educator. Shishido also strove in his piano music to contribute to the identity and culture of Japanese classical music.

Pianist Akina Yura has performed throughout the United States, Europe and her native Japan. A strong advocate of the music of Japanese composer Mutsuo Shishido, Yura has presented programs of his works around the world. She has appeared as a guest performer for the Pianodrom International Piano Festival in Albania and as a collaborative pianist for the Castleman Quartet Program. She is a prize-winner of the New Orleans Piano Institute Competition, Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition, and Brevard Piano Competition. She also has served as a member of the piano faculty of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music Preparatory Program. Yura has trained with numerous notable piano teachers, including Edward Auer, Nathan Buckner, Shigeo Neriki, Yoko Shibamoto, Mikhail Volchok, and Tomoko Yano. She received the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree and Presser Award from the Frost School of Music, where she studied piano with Santiago Rodriguez. Prior to receiving her degree, Yura earned piano performance degrees from the University of Maryland and Indiana University.

ピアノ 由良 明奈
ヨーロッパ、日本、アメリカにて演奏活動を行う。マイアミ大学フロスト音楽院より、音楽芸術博士課程在学中にプレッサー賞を受賞し、宍戸睦郎のピアノ作品の録音、研究を進めた。これまで、ピアノドロム国際ピアノ音楽祭、キャスルマンカルテットプログラムなど、音楽祭に招聘されたほか、ニューオーリンズピアノ音楽祭、MTNAヤングアーティストコンクール、ブレバードピアノコンクールにて入賞。 メリーランド大学、インディアナ大学、マイアミ大学にてピアノ演奏学位を取得。音楽芸術博士。マイアミ大学併設音楽プレパラトリープログラムにて教鞭をとるなど、後進の指導にもあたる。ピアノをEdward Auer, Nathan Buckner, Santiago Rodriguez, Mikhail Volchok, 練木繁夫、芝本容子、矢野智子、高井まゆみ、加藤直美、各氏に師事。
宍戸睦郎 ピアノ作品集

I. Toccata I
II. Adagio
III. Toccata II

I. Allegro moderato (Danses des jeunes) (恋人達)
II. Note = 62 (A l’ancien palais) (古い館で)
III. Allegro vivace (Ronde) (ロンド)

夕桜 童女の襟の うす青く


トッカータ -笛と太鼓と-

ピアノ ソナータ 第1番
I. Allegro
II. Andantino
III. Lento
IV. Allegro vivace

ピアノ ソナータ 第2番
I. Allegro
II. Scherzando
III. Elegante
IV. Toccata (Allegro)

MSR Classics