• Film & TV

CD of Extensive, Lively Conversation Between Director Akira Kurosawa, His Friend Composer Fumio Hayasaka to Be Released

Courtesy of Itoko Kitaura, the second daughter of Fumio Hayasaka
Akira Kurosawa, right, and Fumio Hayasaka

The discovery of a tape recording of a conversation between director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) and composer Fumio Hayasaka (1914-1955), who worked together on numerous masterpieces including “Rashomon” and “Seven Samurai,” has led to the production of a CD of their discussion.

The content of the CD — ranging from reviews of Kurosawa’s rival directors’ work to their shared hobby of antiques — is a valuable source of information about the intimacy between the two masters and the way they worked.

The recording was made on May 1, 1955, at a meeting of the two at Hayasaka’s house following the completion of the script for Kurosawa’s film “Ikimono no Kiroku” (I Live in Fear).

Hayasaka had purchased a tape recorder that same year, which was still rare at the time, and recorded conversations every time he had a visitor.

Kuniharu Akiyama, a music critic and researcher of Hayasaka’s work who died in 1996, kept the tape in storage. Kantai Deguchi, founder of the Salida music label, later received the tape and decided to produce a CD, hoping as many people as possible would listen to the conversation.

He spent about two years producing the CD after obtaining permission from the families of Kurosawa and Hayasaka, as well as the rights holders.

The CD includes a conversation in which Hayasaka talked with Kurosawa, enthusiastically asking, “From a musical point of view, where should I put the scalpel in order to properly perform this dissection?

It also contains a comment by Hayasaka on the movie “Princess Yang Kwei-fei” (1955), directed by Kenji Mizoguchi for which he wrote the music. Hayasaka said that “[The movie] doesn’t touch my heart at all,” to which Kurosawa replied, “Because it’s a story about a country we don’t know.”

Mizoguchi was another one of the major directors of the same generation as Kurosawa.

Hayasaka died of tuberculosis five months after the recording at the age of 41. They promised to go fishing for ayu when they recorded conversation, but it never happened.

The unedited, candid exchange between the two, not originally intended for public consumption, is captured on the 70-minute CD.

“It is important that it is not an interview, but a slice of life. It gave me goose bumps as if they were alive and present right here,” movie critic and director Naofumi Higuchi said.

“It’s as if I can see the true depth of Mr. Hayasaka as he so thoroughly embraces the seemingly unapproachable director Kurosawa.”

The CD will be available at major record shops nationwide from Wednesday.