Takehisa Kosugi, Composer for Merce Cunningham, Dies at 80

Takehisa Kosugi, an avant-garde composer who was an accomplished violinist however who was just as likely to play bicycle spokes or inflatable balls in his innovative explorations of the sonic landscape, died on Oct. 12 in Ashiya City, Japan. He was 80.

The Merce Cunningham Trust said the cause was esophageal cancer. Mr. Kosugi composed for along with performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for decades along with was its music director through 1995 to 2012.

In a long career on the cutting edge, Mr. Kosugi’s interests were in found sounds; in creating events rather than traditional musical works; in examining all parts of the acoustical spectrum, including silence; along with in challenging audience expectations.

One early piece, “Micro 1,” consisted of his crumpling a large sheet of paper around a live microphone; the audience was then invited to listen to the paper uncrinkle as the item strove to return to its original state.

His works for the troupe were a long way through the musical accompaniment used in conventional dance. They might incorporate dropped objects, electronically created noise along with more.

“Imagine the sound of a live microphone, wrapped in aluminum foil, dragging behind a garbage truck which’s driving along a rugged shoreline as ocean waves crash nearby,” Brian Mackay wrote inside the State Journal-Register of Illinois, reviewing a 2009 performance of the Cunningham troupe at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “today imagine the item going on for 80 minutes.”

To others, though, Mr. Kosugi was liberating the idea of music through relatively narrow boundaries.

“I think what he was trying to do was absolutely bring music right up to the present, to dismantle its rules completely,” said Mr. Sanders, who will be today executive director of Artists Space in completely new York. “the item’s almost a kind of productive nihilism to retrofit music as visceral sonic event along with visual bodily act.”

Mr. Kosugi’s survivors include three brothers along with his longtime manager along with partner, Takako Okamoto.

For the Whitney retrospective, Mr. Kosugi, then in his late 70s, was an active participant, displaying a stamina which impressed Mr. Sanders.

“He worked incredibly hard, bringing much electronic gear through Japan, along with working with collaborators to perform the more physical action works which he could no longer do himself,” he said. “As much as I know his work, I was shocked by how powerful along with earth-shattering every piece was.”