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"Born on July 9, 1908 in Tokyo, Maestro Asahina taught himself the violin and played in the Kyoto University Law School Orchestra. He graduated at the Kyoto University in 1931 with a law degree because his family insisted on a legal career and he stuck with it for as long as he could. Before he became a professional conductor, he joined an Osaka law firm, worked as a sales clerk in a department store and for the Kankyu railway company. One of his favorite jokes was that he was probably the world's only conductor to have operated a train.

Maestro Asahina founded the Kansai Symphony Orchestra, now the Osaka Philharmonic, and remained as its musical director until he passed away on December 29, 2001 at the age of 93. He started his international career in 1956 which he gave a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic. Asahina met Furtwängler in the early 1950s. Furtwängler discussed his views on conducting Bruckner, and Bruckner became one of Asahina's specialties.

Though Asahina often chose to use slower tempi, he managed to get his orchestra to sustain the line over long phrases. Bar lines disappeared, he conducted in paragraphs, not sentences. His sonority was built from the bottom up, founded on the basses and cellos, and also built around a rich string sound. Although the music had force and power, it was never angular, never overly aggressive. It always had beauty, an inner beauty and even spirituality. Martin Anderson"

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  • 121
  • Conductors
  • Sep 17, 1999
  • English

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