Date of Birth
Hokkaidō Prefecture, JapanEdit page
Akira Ifukube (伊福部 昭, Ifukube Akira, 31 May 1914 – 8 February 2006) was a Japanese composer. He is best known for composing several entries in the Godzilla franchise as well as developing the titular monster's roar.
Akira Ifukube was born on 31 May 1914 in Kushiro, Japan as the third son of a police officer Toshimitsu Ifukube. The origins of this family can be traced back to at least the 7th century with the birth of Ifukibe-no-Tokotarihime. He was strongly influenced by Ainu music as he spent his childhood (from the age of 9 to 12) in Otofuke near Obihiro, which was with a mixed population of Ainu and Japanese. His first encounter with classical music occurred when attending secondary school in Sapporo city. Ifukube decided to become a composer at the age of 14 after hearing a radio performance of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and also cited the music of Manuel de Falla as a major influence.
Ifukube studied forestry at Hokkaido Imperial University in Sapporo and composed in his spare time, which prefigured a line of self-taught Japanese composers. His first piece was the piano solo, Piano Suite (later the title was changed to Japan Suite, arranged for orchestra), dedicated to George Copeland who was living in Spain. Atsushi Miura, Ifukube's friend at the university, sent a letter to Copeland.
Copeland replied, "It is wonderful that you listen to my disc in spite of you living in Japan, the opposite side of the earth. I imagine you may compose music. Send me some piano pieces." Then Miura, who was not a composer, presented Ifukube and this piece to Copeland. Copeland promised to interpret it, but the correspondence was unfortunately stopped because of the Spanish Civil War. Ifukube's big break came in 1935, when his first orchestral piece Japanese Rhapsody won the first prize in an international competition for young composers promoted by Alexander Tcherepnin.
The judges of that contest—Albert Roussel, Jacques Ibert, Arthur Honegger, Alexandre Tansman, Tibor Harsányi, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, and Henri Gil-Marchex were unanimous in their selection of Ifukube as the winner. Ifukube studied modern Western composition while Tcherepnin was visiting Japan, and his Piano Suite received an honorable mention at the I.C.S.M. festival in Venice in 1938. Japanese Rhapsody was performed in Europe on a number of occasions in the late 1930s.
On completing University, he worked as a forestry officer and lumber processor in Akkeshi, and towards the end of the Second World War was appointed by the Imperial Japanese Army to study the elasticity and vibratory strength of wood. He suffered radiation exposure after carrying out X-rays without protection, a consequence of the wartime lead shortage.
Thus, he had to abandon forestry work and became a professional composer and teacher. Ifukube spent some time in hospital due to the radiation exposure, and was startled one day to hear one of his own marches being played over the radio when General Douglas MacArthur arrived to formalize the Japanese surrender.