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In Okhi's work the eight episodes clearly refer to a sequence of events that began at 8.15am (GMT+9) that fateful day -- 6 August 1945. His publisher, United Music, categorise it as a 'symphonic fantasy'.

With this work Yuasa and the NJPO can't be faulted and Naxos' sound engineers have done them proud [listen -- track 2, 1:20-2:18].

Ohki studied music theory from the beginning and graduated in 1921. In addition to Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, he was attracted to Mussorgsky's earthy melodies, the precise orchestration of Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel, Debussy's sensitivity and the fusion of popular and modern sonority found in Stravinsky's L'oiseau de feu. More than that he never lost sight of the shakuhachi music recordings he heard, and, above all, traditional Japanese music.

From around the 1930s Ohki started to conduct his own orchestral works, among them the Suite Five Fairy Tales (1934), Yuro no meso -- Night meditation (1937) and Six Preludes and Postlude to Classical Statues (1948). In 1939 he won first prize in the Weingartner Competition.

Hiroshima Symphony was performed by Arvid Jansons and the Leningrad Philharmonic in the Soviet Union, and by Leopold Stokowski in the United States. Ohki died of cancer on 18 April 1971. His last work was Symphony No 6 Vietnam (1970), dedicated to the Vietnamese people who fought against imperialist America.

So, what of the Symphony?

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Copyright © 14 March 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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