An excerpt of the foreword by Sara Davis Buechner
Koji Taku (宅 孝二, 1904-1983) was born in Sakai City (Osaka), and educated primarily in Paris, as a piano pupil of Alfred Cortot and composition pupil of Nadia Boulanger at the École Normale. He became a prodigious composer of film music and a noted jazz proponent in his later years, and was a great lover of both American pop and French cabaret music. Legend has it that on his 60th birthday (an occasion that Japanese refer to as Kanreki, or a new “coming around” of life in re-birth), he tendered his resignation as Music Professor at the distinguished Tokyo Geidai University and took up a new career playing jazz at a nearby Tokyo piano bar.
An insouciant spirit is found in his clever set of five Variations upon the first of Francis Poulenc’s Mouvements Perpetuels of 1918. After the presentation of the theme, cooly marked by Poulenc as “en général, sans nuances,” comes an ostinato jazz variations followed by a second treatment somewhat brutalist in style, à la Bartók. Variation Three is a tender chanson, which gives way to a baleful blues. The crackling finale features samba and bossa nova dance elements, as well as cha cha cha sforzandi, rapid repeating notes and large jumps, and whole-tone scale references possibly alluding to the theme of the then-popular Tetsuwan Atom (“Astroboy”) television show.