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CD with extensive, lively conversations between director Akira Kurosawa and his friend, composer Fumio Hayasaka, is released

Thanks to Itoko Kitaura, the second daughter of Fumio Hayasaka
Akira Kurosawa, right, and Fumio Hayasaka

The discovery of a tape recording of a conversation between director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) and composer Fumio Hayasaka (1914-1955), who collaborated on numerous masterpieces including ‘Rashomon’ and ‘Seven Samurai’, led to the production of a CD with their discussion.

The CD’s contents – ranging from reviews of the work of Kurosawa’s rival directors to their shared hobby of antiques – are a valuable source of information about the intimacy between the two masters and the way they worked.

The recording was made on May 1, 1955, during a meeting of the two at Hayasaka’s house, after completing the script for Kurosawa’s film “Ikimono no Kiroku” (I Live in Fear).

Hayasaka had purchased a tape recorder that same year, which was still rare at the time, and recorded conversations every time he had visitors.

Kuniharu Akiyama, a music critic and researcher of Hayasaka’s work who died in 1996, kept the tape. Kantai Deguchi, founder of the Salida music label, later received the tape and decided to produce a CD, hoping that as many people as possible would listen to the conversation.

He spent about two years producing the CD after receiving permission from Kurosawa and Hayasaka’s families, as well as the rights holders.

The CD contains a conversation in which Hayasaka spoke to Kurosawa and enthusiastically asked, “From a musical point of view, where should I place the scalpel to properly perform this dissection?

It also contains a commentary by Hayasaka on the film “Princess Yang Kwei-fei” (1955), directed by Kenji Mizoguchi for which he wrote the music. Hayasaka said that “[The movie] doesn’t touch my heart at all,” to which Kurosawa replied, “Because it’s a story about a country we don’t know.”

Mizoguchi was another of the most important directors of the same generation as Kurosawa.

Hayasaka died of tuberculosis five months after recording at the age of 41. They promised to go fishing for ayu when they recorded a conversation, but that never happened.

The unedited, candid exchange between the two, not originally intended for public consumption, is captured on the 70-minute CD.

“It is important that it is not an interview, but a slice of life. It gave me goosebumps as if they were alive and present here,” said film critic and director Naofumi Higuchi.

“It’s like I can see the true depth of Mr. Hayasaka as he so thoroughly embraces the seemingly unapproachable director Kurosawa.”

The CD will be available from Wednesday at major record stores throughout the country.

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