Last Thursday, Isao Tomita one of Japan’s pioneers in synthesizers died of heart failure at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital at the age of 84.
While Tomita might not be a household name outside of Japan by any means, he did play a big role in electronic music’s growth across Japan when he started using a Moog III synthesizer in 1971.
Tomita is best-known for being the first Japanese person to be nominated for the Grammy’s when his cover album of Debussy topped the Billboard classical music charts in 1974. Snowflakes are Dancing eventually netted him four Grammy nominations for the awards the next year. The album received a recent comeback when four of its tracks were featured in American indie film Heaven Knows What.
Most recently, Tomita won the Japan Foundation Award in 2015 which is given to individuals or organizations “who have made a significant contribution to promoting understanding and friendship between Japan and the rest of the world through academic, artistic and other cultural pursuits”
Last weekend, there was a private funeral held attended by close family members.