Canadian born musician Robert Aitken (b. 1939) has enjoyed an active and versatile career as a flutist, composer, and new music champion. The influence of non-Western music traditions on his compositional aesthetic is reflected in his sensitivity to microtonality, color, and timbre. Aitken belongs to a resurgent class of contemporary flutist-composers— a tradition that began in the Baroque era and proved crucial to the recognition of the flute as a virtuosic solo instrument— and their intimate knowledge of the instrument’s capabilities have laid the foundation for a new body of repertoire specifically tailored to the modern system flute.
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) was a largely self-taught Japanese composer who gained national and international recognition as Japan’s leading composer during his lifetime, and his unique musical language represents a synthesis of varied styles and influences including Debussy, Messiaen, John Cage, and traditional Japanese music. Throughout his lifetime, Takemitsu enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration with recently departed French flutist Aurèle Nicolet. The products of this relationship include:
- Eucalypts I for flute, oboe, and harp (1970): premiered by Nicolet
- Eucalypts II for flute, oboe, and harp (1970): dedicated to and premiered by Nicolet
- Voice for solo flute (1971): commissioned by and dedicated to Nicolet
- And Then I Knew ’Twas Wind for flute, viola, and harp (1992): commissioned for, dedicated to, and premiered by Nicolet
- Air for solo flute (1995): Takemitsu’s last composition, dedicated to Nicolet on his 70th birthday, premiered in a tribute to the composer