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Ryuichi Sakamoto 1952 – 2023

Ryuichi Sakamoto died March 28 at the age of 71. The Japanese pianist, composer and pioneer of electronic music was the winner of the Prix Ars Electronica in 1997.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto, who played the piano since childhood, became known primarily as a film music composer, for example for his compositions for “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (1983), “Babel” (2006) and “The Revenant” (2015). For his soundtrack for “The Last Emperor” (1987), he was awarded an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Grammy.

His role as a music pioneer was no less significant. As co-founder of the Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) in 1978, he is considered one of the pioneers of electronic music, with formative influences on the international synth-pop, hip-hop and techno scenes.

His personal commitment was also directed towards the future: for years he had been campaigning for environmental protection in Japan and – increasingly after the Fukushima disaster – against nuclear power.

In 1997, Ryuichi Sakamoto won the Golden Nica of the Prix Ars Electronica in the category “Interactive Art” together with Toshio Iwai for Music Plays Images x Images Play Music . The prize-winner’s concert at the Posthof in the same year was remembered by the audience as “legendary”.

Ryuichi Sakamoto and Toshio Iwai at Ars Electronica 1997; Photo: Rudolf Brandstätter