Piano Sonata

There were two reasons for me to write this piece.

One, I was asked to compose for my favourite pianist, Yu Kosuge.

Two, my dear friend Ayako Hasegawa wanted to commission this work for her most favourite pianist, Yu Kosuge.

Ayako and I attended the same music college in the UK. Unlike me, she is too brilliant to remain a musician; she went on to become a successful businessperson with a great passion for art and music. This piece is the second one she personally commissioned, the first being my Shamisen Concerto, a co-commission with the soloist Hidejiro Honjoh. I imagine that the previous experience for her was a somewhat positive one, which led to her desire to commission again.

A challenge that arose this time was that Yu and Ayako asked me, “Compose a piano sonata in any way you like!”

As I ponder on form of the sonata... I immediately regret that I didn't take it seriously enough at the junior department of the music school I attended when I was 10. I distinctly remember that they were teaching us about sonata form. Even at that time, I was too preoccupied in creating my own music, rather than learning some antique form from hundreds of years ago, let alone from (mostly) some European composers who had little relevance to my daily life in suburban Osaka. Later, I did attend a music college in the UK, even earning a doctorate, but nobody cared to teach me about the sonata form, and I was never interested in the works of composers from the centuries proceeding my own.

But, as a reminder, it's never too late to study.
So study I did. Intentionally, I steered clear of the familiar piano sonatas from the 20th century (I'll let you guess which ones) because they felt too close to me.
Yu requested a single movement work, considering the form of a sonata (regardless of how I perceived it.)

As I spent my time analyzing sonatas from older centuries (I will also let you guess which ones), and even though the sounds of those piano sonatas didn't personally speak to me (much like a lot of "classical" music, which immediately feels unrelatable and irrelevant to me) I became interested in the forms.
It was profoundly inspiring that their music wasn't inspiring - it allowed me to start composing with a clean slate for myself.

I can't pinpoint when I started composing or when I finished my study of the sonata. As usual, I suspect that while studying, I drifted away to start composing my own Sonata, which interested me significantly more and was more exciting than studying about other composers’ work, especially from other centuries.

My process was as follows: I compose every day, and I share every new bar, every deleted page; I share everything with Yu and the commissioner Ayako, especially because this is a privately commissioned work. They witness how the piece grows just as I do, every day.
During this process, sometimes Yu played certain sections and recorded them on her smartphone, sharing those recordings with me and Ayako. As always, her recordings dispelled my doubts before I shared the new bars, providing a great deal of encouragement.
I had multiple endings with an uncertainty of how to finish things.
I would receive messages from Yu saying, "Is it over already? I want to see you struggle more with composing!" along with a laughing emoji. I wasn’t sure how playful she was being.
There were truth to her words, though. I attempted many different endings, which is a common part of my compositional process. Months later, I finally made a decision on how the piece should end. It was more like the piece, my Sonata, told me, “This is how I end.”

My pieces always have a mind of their own, and the best way to serve them is to always allow them to find their way home.

Dai Fujikura (edited by Joseph Ehrenpreis)






今回はある課題があった。それは優さんと長谷川さんから 「大さんが思う「ピアノソナタ」を自由に作曲して欲しい」というリクエスト。










その数ヶ月後、僕はついに作品の終わり方を決めた。どちらかというと、僕のソナタが、"これが私の終わり方よ "と教えてくれたようなものだった。