Ryuichi Sakamoto dead: “The Revenant” composer was 71 years old

The Oscar winner, who died after a long battle with cancer, continued working until his death.

Ryuichi Sakamoto, the Japanese composer who helped popularize the electronic music world as a member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra before writing some of the most popular film scores of the last half century, died Tuesday at the age of 71 after a fight with cancer.

“While undergoing cancer treatment, which was discovered in June 2020, Sakamoto continued to create works in his home studio whenever his health permitted,” wrote Sakamoto’s management, Commmons, in a opinion announce his death. “He lived with music until the very end. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to his fans and everyone who has supported his activities, as well as to the medical professionals in Japan and the US who have done everything in their power to heal him.”

Born in Tokyo in 1952, Sakamoto first rose to prominence on the Japanese music scene in the mid-1970s. After years of working as a session musician, he co-founded the seminal electronic pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1977. The group quickly became famous for their experiments with synthesizers and are widely credited with helping to transform electronic music into a mainstream global art form.

A lifelong cinephile, Sakamoto soon turned his success into a career as a film score composer. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, starring David Byrne and Cong Su, and garnered widespread acclaim for his second collaboration with the director on The Sheltering Sky. Throughout his career he has worked with many of cinema’s most celebrated writers, including Brian de Palma, Luca Guadagnino and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Sakamoto’s life and career took a turn in 2014 when the composer was diagnosed with stage III throat cancer. He took a brief break from composing to undergo chemotherapy, but quickly returned to work as soon as he was physically able. His attempts to remain creative during his illness were captured in the documentary Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda.

In 2015 he agreed to score Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant despite his frail condition due to his longstanding respect for the filmmaker. His sparse, naturalistic score for the survival epic was widely acclaimed and remains one of Sakamoto’s best-known works.

In a 2018 interview with IndieWire, Sakamoto explained that his battle with cancer profoundly changed the way he saw the world and made him a better artist.

“I used to know things intellectually, but now I feel them,” he said. “Now me feel that my body is a part of nature, so being ill is just a natural process, and death is a natural process, and being reborn through the ground is a natural process.”

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https://www.indiewire.com/2023/04/ryuichi-sakamoto-dead-1234824994/ Ryuichi Sakamoto dead: “The Revenant” composer was 71 years old

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