C1925. TAKASHI ASAHINA Cond. Osaka Phil., w.TAKAHIRO SONODA: Piano Concerto #1 in d; Piano Concerto #2 in B-flat (both Brahms). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1123, Live Performance, 14 May, 1976, Festival Hall, Osaka. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Takashi Asahina was loved by music fans for his strong and dignified style of conducting. He specialized in the works of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. He won the government’s Medal with Purple Ribbon in 1969, Person of Cultural Merit in 1989 and Order of Culture in 1994. He was also honored with the Japan Academy of Arts Award in 1976.
A Tokyo native, Asahina graduated from the Department of Law at Kyoto University and worked at railway company Hankyu Corp. for two years before launching his career as a conductor in 1936, despite having no formal education for the job. He used to boast to friends that he was probably the only conductor in the world who has operated a train. During wartime, Asahina held a series of performance tours in various parts of China controlled by Japanese forces. Immediately after returning to Japan in 1946, Asahina helped found the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, which became the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947, and served as its executive conductor and music director up to his death at age 93.
Asahina remained active throughout his life and was invited twice to perform with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra in 1996. His energetic performances gained popularity especially among younger generations in his final years. He complained of ill health after performing at Nagoya on Oct. 24 and was hospitalized at a Kobe hospital. Subsequent performances were canceled. He died on the very night of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual yearend performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which he conducted more than 250 times during his career. On Sunday night, conductor Hiroshi Wakasugi took Asahina’s place for the orchestra’s performance.”
- THE JAPAN TIMES, 31 Dec., 2001
“Takahiro Sonoda’s musical education began at a young age with lessons from his father, a music teacher, before starting piano studies with Leo Shirota at age 6. Sonoda graduated from Tokyo Music School, the precursor of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
In 1954, he performed under the baton of Herbert von Karajan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. The following year, he debuted as a soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and went on to perform with a number of renowned conductors. Some of the prestigious awards he received include the Japan Record Academy Award for his recording of Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata in 1996 and the Suntory Music Award in 1997.”
- THE JAPAN TIMES, 9 Oct, 2004