Hayasaka Fumio, Ronin Composer: Analysis and Commentary of Five Film Scores
Hayasaka Fumio (1914–55) worked with some of Japan’s most famous film directors during his sixteen year career while winning numerous accolades for both his film and concert music, though his name and work are little known outside of his native country. Self-taught, he brought new ideas to Japanese music and was a key figure in the developments made in the post-war era and a major influence on subsequent composers. Hayasaka’s style blended traditional Asian musical elements—primarily Japanese, though he also studied Indonesian and Chinese music—with the Western orchestra, creating what he called a Pan-Asian style. He also composed some of the earliest film scores to use traditional instruments inside a Western symphony, most notably Rashomon (Kurosawa Akira, 1950).
Few scholars have discussed the work of Hayasaka Fumio, and none have considered his work as the sole subject for a study. This dissertation aims to fill that gap in the research on Hayasaka by examining five scores he wrote for directors Kurosawa Akira and Mizoguchi Kenji and then considering Hayasaka’s relationship with both directors. The films are: Rashomon, Drunken Angel (Kurosawa, 1948), Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954), Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 1953), and Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, 1954). Utilizing close analysis of the film and its music, and aided by examination of the extant manuscript scores and sketches for all but one of the films (Drunken Angel, for which scores are unavailable), this dissertation provides new insights on this important composer’s life, career, and approach to film scoring.