Akira Ifukube

Well, we are back to present another classic that will have you screaming for more with the personal bio for this week. This one covers a musical composer who arguably became another figurehead in those legendary studios of TOHO. I present Akira ifukube. Just to remind everyone once again, all pictures belong to their respected owners listed below the pictures and the links that will be provided are amazon links that give me a small percentage in commission.

where he lived

Akira Ifukube was born on 31 May 1914 in Kushiro, Japan as the third son of a police officer. The origins of this family can be traced back to at least the 7th century with the birth of Ifukibe-no-Tokotarihime. (I’m just going to mention this, but that is a very long line of a family when considering going as far back as the middle ages.) He was strongly influenced by the Ainu music as he spent his childhood (from age of 9 to 12) in Otofuke near Obihiro, there was 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”, also cited the music of Manuel de Falla as a major influence.



His schooling as a music


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. Ifukube’s friend Atsushi Miura at 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, 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.

(This is just part of how he lived his life within these times. Though imperial Japan was on a high rise, not much changed for Ifukube.) (But that’s my opinion on the subject in question.)


The teaching

He taught at the Tokyo University of the Arts (formerly Tokyo Music School), during which period he composed his first film score for The End of the Silver Mountains, released in 1947. Over the next fifty years, he would compose more than 250 film scores, the high point of which was his 1954 music for Ishirō Honda’s Toho movie, Godzilla. Ifukube also created Godzilla’s trademark roar – produced by rubbing a resin-covered leather glove along the loosened strings of a double bass – and its footsteps, created by striking an amplifier box.

Despite his financial success as a film composer, Ifukube’s first love had always been his general classical work as a composer. In fact, his compositions for the two genres cross-fertilized each other. For example, he was to recycle his 1953 music for the ballet Shaka, about how the young Siddhartha Gautama eventually became the Buddha, for Kenji Misumi’s 1961 film Buddha. Then after in 1988, he reworked the film music to create his three-movement symphonic ode Gotama the Buddha. Meanwhile, he had returned to teaching at the Tokyo College of Music, becoming president of the college the following year, and in 1987 retired to become head of the College’s ethnomusicology department.

He trained younger generation composers such as Toshiro Mayuzumi, Yasushi Akutagawa, Akio Yashiro, Teizo Matsumura, Sei Ikeno, Minoru Miki, Maki Ishii, Kaoru Wada, Yssimal Motoji, and Imai Satoshi.

He died in Tokyo at Meguro-Ku Hospital of multiple organ dysfunction on 8 February in 2006, at the age of 91, and was buried at the Ube shrine in Tottori.

Frank Kovalchek


TOHO inclusion

Being one for the music, it is no surprise when toho gave him a position in 1954 for the movie Godzilla though his works appeared in 1947. So here are the movies listed that Ifukube composed over his time with TOHO and other studios.




The Mysterians






Well, we just reached the end of another great personal bio for this month. I hope everyone is doing well. Been working on some more ideas to come over to the classic giant monster site. Possibly hosting live streaming and organizing the personal bios in a different order. But that has yet to be seen. In the meantime, minor changes will come to the site to provide a better reading experience to viewers like you. I will also work on finding content for more opportunities to monetize without hindering the user experience. We came a long way since the first blog. Now classic giant monsters.com dominates the search engine bar with minimum effort. All that was possible because of your guys. So from me to you. Thank you for being part of the classic fandom.


Author: Vic

Just a little about me is I like monster movies and love educating people with blogs and content.

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