On 30 March 2023, Deutsche Grammophon announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Joe Hisaishi, the revered Japanese composer whose work has become synonymous with the magical Studio Ghibli animations of director Hayao Miyazaki. Spanning the full spectrum of Hisaishi’s work as composer, conductor and pianist, the deal will deliver a richly varied range of audio and audiovisual recordings. For his first DG album, out today (30 June), Hisaishi has created an exciting series of symphonic arrangements of his original soundtracks for such Ghibli classics as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My neighbor Totoro. Fittingly titled A Symphonic Celebration and made in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer, the album presents state-of-the-art recordings of the extraordinary music of this much-loved artistic force in animated movie-making.
Just weeks before the release of A Symphonic Celebration
, the maestro made his debut at the Vienna Musikverein
with the Wiener Symphoniker
(on 30 March, as part of the orchestra’s new CINEMA:SOUND concert series). That very special event is now available to stream on DG’s STAGE+
platform. The label issued a first single from the album on 31 March – a joyful new version of the streaming hit “Merry-Go-Round of Life”
from Studio Ghibli favourite Howl’s Moving Castle
. Two further singles have followed: beautiful new versions of “Mother’s Broom”
and “A Town with an Ocean View”
, both from Kiki’s Delivery Service
Hisaishi ranks among Japan’s greatest composers of all time and is famed worldwide for his collaborative work with Oscar-winning director and Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki. Their creative partnership began in 1984 with the post-apocalyptic anime feature Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and has since developed to the point that they are now likened to other legendary director-composer pairings, including Hitchcock and Herrmann, Fellini and Rota, Leone and Morricone, and Spielberg and Williams. Indeed, Hisaishi’s reputation has been secured by the fact that his soundtracks have won eight Japanese Academy Awards, an unprecedented achievement. He is equally acknowledged, however, as a conductor and as a composer of contemporary classical music, much of it minimalistic and experimental in nature, like that of friends and colleagues such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Nico Muhly.
Hisaishi’s vast catalogue includes over 100 film scores and around 30 studio albums. He has also written compositions for the concert hall, among them symphonies, TRI-AD for large orchestra, The Border, a concerto for three horns and orchestra and, most recently, Viola Saga, premiered in 2022. Furthermore, he has composed and recorded a sequence of Piano Stories, tuneful miniatures that reflect his fascination with minimalism and feeling for vibrant instrumental colours.