Dai Fujikura: WP of Akiko's Piano in Hiroshima

Dai Fujikura: WP of Akiko's Piano in Hiroshima

“To express such an universal theme of “music for peace”, the piece should portray that most personal, smallest point of view. I think that is the most powerful way, and only music can achieve this.”

Dai Fujikura

Dai Fujikura’s fourth piano concerto, Akiko’s Piano, emerged from an extraordinary story that began before the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima in 1945. Akiko Kawamoto was a young girl in Hiroshima who enjoyed playing her piano. She survived the atomic bomb but succumbed a day later to complications from its radiation. Akiko’s parents survived, and kept her piano in their home, where it remained untouched for almost 60 years. On August 5th, 2020, 75 years after the catastrophe, the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra presented Fujikura’s work conducted by Tatsuya Shimono in the memorial concert “An Evening of Peace Concert.” Hiroshima native, Mami Hagiwara, performed Fujikura’s work on Akiko’s piano, which miraculously survived the atomic bomb. The soloist also shares a personal story with the instrument: In 2004, Hagiwara’s childhood piano tuner, Hiroshi Sakakibara restored the instrument, where it has been played since by Martha Argerich and Peter Serkin, among others.

Listen to the live recording

In our video, Dai Fujikura tells the touching story of Akiko’s piano and takes us through the process of composing his work on the historical piano. Mami Hagiwara plays Fujikura’s solo work Akiko’s Diary on Akiko’s piano, which displays the exact cadenza that is presented in his fourth piano concerto.

Watch the full interview

As part of the Hiroshima Symphony's "Music for Peace" project, Fujikura dedicated his work to ambassador and pianist Martha Argerich. In his concerto he uses two pianos: the main grand piano and a historical piano that was not destroyed by the atomic bomb.

Akiko's Piano (2019)

Piano Concerto No. 4
solo pf - - - vib - str
World Premiere: Hiroshima, Aug 5, 2020, Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra,
Tatsuya Shimono (cond.), Mami Hagiwara (pf)

Duration: 20'

About the work

Dedicated to Hiroshima Symphony’s “Peace and Music Ambassador” Martha Argerich, Fujikura's work has attracted attention even beyond the concert hall. On the 75th memorial year of the atomic bombing, the Japanese television broadcaster NHK produced a documentary drama on Akiko's Piano, which includes footage of the world premiere. Furthermore, the book "Akiko's Piano: Playing Over the A-Bomb" published in July by Iwanami Shoten dedicates a chapter to the piano concerto. “Though naturally this concerto will have ‘music for peace’ as its main message,” says composer Dai Fujikura, “as a composer I like to concentrate the personal point of view. This microscopic view to tell the universal subject, is the way to go, I feel, in my compositions: the view of Akiko's, ordinary nineteen-year-old girl who didn’t have any power over politics (and she was born in US, which means she is also an American). At the time of her death, she didn’t know what had happened, or what killed her (radiation poisoning, as she didn’t die from the initial blast). There must be similar stories to that of this nineteen-year-old girl in every war in history and in every country in the world. Every war will have had an ‘Akiko’.”

Read the complete composer’s note here.

Score of Akiko's Piano

Photo: Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra