The Head of the Piano Department of the Sapporo Otani University was awarded the prize for her contribution and tireless efforts to deepen and develop the Japanese – Hungarian relations in the realms of education and culture. On behalf of Zoltán Balog, the award was handed over to Satoko Tanimoto by the President of the Liszt Academy, Dr Andrea Vigh in the presence of the management of the Sapporo Kitara Concert Hall.
Dr Vigh’s address recommending Ms Satoko Tanimoto’s work is to be read below:
In accordance with the ethos of the Pro Cultura Hungarica Memorial Plaque, as the President of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, I recommend the Japanese pianist Satoko Tanimoto for the award. She has been making tireless efforts to popularize Hungarian music in Japan and has greatly contributed to the deepening of Japanese and Hungarian relations through various types of achievements, among others, as a performing artist and as an educator.
Satoko Tanimoto is the daughter of the Kodály Award winning ethnomusicologist and Kodály, Bartók and Liszt expert, Kazuyuki Tanimoto and Michiko Tanimoto, also highly solicitous for Japanese – Hungarian relations. Thanks to these parents, Satoko Tanimoto got into contact with Hungary and Hungarian music early on in her life. This inspiring environment prompted her to absorb Hungarian culture and to be profoundly fond of it: she spent a year in Budapest with her parents. Her future successful career was founded on the decisive experiences gained during this time. She was then taking piano classes with Gabriella Szilágyi, Klára Máthé and Péter Solymos, then in 1987, she graduated as a piano soloist from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, where she could perfect her skills with masters like Ferenc Rados, Sándor Devich and György Kurtág - and during her postgraduate music studies - Tibor Hazay. The exceptionally gifted pianist unfolded her talents as an international performer and educator: today she is the Head of the Department of Piano at the Sapporo Otani University and the soloist of international music festivals (Budapest Spring Festival, Budapest Café Festival, Lugano Classical Music Festival). As a guest artist, she has joined forces with renowned orchestras and ensembles all over the world (Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Budapest String Quartet, Salzburg Solisten, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra).
Yet, the most important connect her with Hungary, as she has collaborated with many highly acclaimed Hungarian musicians, such as Miklós Perényi, Dénes Kovács, András Keller, Béla Drahos, Zsolt Szatmári, Andrea Meláth, Kobayashi Ken-Ichiro or the members of the Keller Quartet. Her dedication and contribution make her the worthy heir of her parents’ legacy: she has been a member and become the director of the Hungary–Japan Friendship Society's Hokkaido branch, the Directorial Board of the Japanese-Hungarian Festival and of the Hungarian Festival in Tokyo. Her work and outstanding artistic achievements were acknowledged with the Artists for Culture Prize by Sapporo City after having won the Grand Prize of the Sapporo International Art Festival giving a most brilliant concert of Bartók’s music in 1997. She was also VIP guest and performer of the International Alumni Reunion of the Liszt Academy - funded by the Hungarian Government- in October, 2016.
Her work is not only exceedingly dedicated but also create academic value: she has been a regular organiser and performer of the long-standing (20 years) seminars on the works of Kodály, Bartók and Liszt in Sapporo, contributing thereby to the popularisation of Hungarian music in Japan. The professional standard of the seminar is so high that its best student can give a concert at the Budapest Spring Festival the following year and the most excellent candidates of the admission audition become entitled to begin their studies in the non-degree programme of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music. In addition, Satoko Tanimoto organises seminar and concerts series on Liszt’s piano compositions at the Otani University while leading her own piano class – all this in close cooperation with the unparalleled academic staff of the Liszt Academy. More than 30 professors and six ensembles of the Liszt Academy have visited Otani University in order to assist the young Japanese musicians in Sapporo with their personal presence in masterclasses. As Satoko Tanimoto believes that professional and personal relationships are the most enriching factor, it is a high priority for her to make this knowledge and art as widely accessible as possible. Thus, she is the host of a music radio programme and is also the president of the Hokkaido International Music Exchange Programme, facilitating thereby the continuity of educators, students and artists’ exchange.
The tireless work of the Tanimoto family is also reflected in Satoko Tanimoto’s individual efforts for the revival of the Japanese-Hungarian music culture, which has made a great impact in her home-country, Japan. Her extensive activities, however, reach beyond geographical, cultural, genre, and national boundaries and strive to highlight what both cultures similarly acknowledge as a shared treasure: the music of their peoples and their prominent composers, among whom some of the greatest are Bartók, Kodály and Liszt.
On the grounds of all the above-listed merits, I recommend the pianist Satoko Tanimoto with deep conviction to the Pro Cultura Hungarica Committee for the Pro Cultura Hungarica Award for her unparalleled popularisation efforts of Hungarian culture in Japan.
Dr Andrea Vigh
Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music