Nobuyuki Tsujii

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Nobuyuki Tsujii
Nobuyuki tsujii england 2012.jpg
Nobuyuki Tsujii in Bristol, England, 2012
Born (1988-09-13) September 13, 1988 (age 26)
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation Pianist, composer
Nationality Japanese

Nobuyuki Tsujii (born September 13, 1988) is a Japanese pianist and composer.


Nobuyuki Tsujii was born blind but with a talent for music. At the age of two, he began to play "Do Re Mi" on a toy piano after his mother had been humming the tune. He began his formal study of piano at the age of four. In 1995, at the age of seven, Tsujii won the first prize at the All Japan Music of Blind Students by the Tokyo Helen Keller Association. In 1998, at age ten, he debuted with the Century Orchestra, Osaka. He gave his first piano recital in the small hall of Tokyo's Suntory Hall at age 12.[1] Subsequently, he made his overseas debut with performances in the United States, France, and Russia. In October 2005, he reached the semifinal and received the Critics’ Award at the 15th International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition held in Warsaw, Poland.[2]

In April 2007, Tsujii entered Ueno Gakuen University, graduating in March 2011.[3]

Tsujii competed in the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and tied for the gold medal with Haochen Zhang. He was also awarded the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for the best performance of a new work. He played all twelve of Frédéric Chopin's Op. 10 Études as part of his performance in the preliminaries.

He was one of the competitors prominently featured in the Peter Rosen documentary film about the 2009 Van Cliburn competition, "A Surprise in Texas", which was first broadcast on PBS TV in 2010.[4]

In addition to being a pianist, Nobuyuki Tsujii is a composer. At age 12, he performed his own composition "Street Corner of Vienna."[5] In 2010-2011, he composed the theme music for a Japanese film[6] as well as for a Japanese TV drama.[7] In June 2011, Japanese figure skating champion Midori Ito performed in a world event (Master Elite Oberstdorf 2011)[8] to the music of "Whisper of the River," composed by Tsujii when he was in high school to express his love for his father after the two took a walk on the Kanda River in Tokyo.[9] Tsujii was the music director and composed the theme music for the Japanese film はやぶさ 遥かなる帰還 The Return of the Hayabusa" released in February 2012. In 2014 he composed the ending theme for the film "Maestro!"[10]

On November 10, 2011, Nobuyuki Tsujii made a debut recital in the main hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium) at Carnegie Hall in New York, as part of the Keyboard Virtuosos II series.[11][12] Tsujii debuted at the BBC Proms on July 16, 2013 with a performance with the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Juanjo Mena.[13]

Nobuyuki Tsujii is featured in a 2013 English textbook for high schools in Japan.[14] [15]

A 2014 film, also by Peter Rosen, documents Nobu's life from birth to Carnegie Hall and the devastating effects of the Japanese tsunami called Touching the Sound.

Comments on Tsujii[edit]

Van Cliburn is quoted as having told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "He was absolutely miraculous. His performance had the power of a healing service. It was truly divine."[16]

2009 Van Cliburn Competition Juror Richard Dyer, a chief music critic for The Boston Globe, said, "Very seldom do I close my notebook and just give myself over to it, and he made that necessary. I didn't want to be interrupted in what I was hearing."[17]

2009 Van Cliburn Competition Juror Michel Béroff, an award winning internationally known pianist, told the Japanese monthly piano magazine Chopin,[18] "The special thing about his performance is his sound. It has depth, color and contrast, the genuine music."[19]

In the documentary "A Surprise in Texas", Menahem Pressler, Cliburn juror and an eminent pianist, says: “I have the utmost admiration for (Nobuyuji Tsujii). God has taken his eyes, but given him the physical endowment and mental endowment to encompass the greatest works of piano. For him to play the Chopin concerto with such sweetness, gentleness and sincerity -- it's deeply touching. I had to keep from crying when I left the room.”

Scott Cantrell in his review of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition for The Dallas Morning News wrote that “It's almost beyond imagining that he has learned scores as formidable as Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata by ear…Through all three rounds, he played with unfailing assurance, and his unforced, utterly natural Chopin E-Minor Piano Concerto was an oasis of loveliness.”[20][21]

John Giordano, music director and conductor of Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra who was jury chairman for the Cliburn competition, said in 2010, "He’s amazing. We closed our eyes and it’s so phenomenal that it’s hard to withhold your tears. Nobu played the most difficult hour-long Beethoven piece (Hammerklavier, Sonata no. 29) flawlessly. For anyone, it’s extraordinary. But for someone blind who learns by ear, it’s mind-boggling."[22]

In an interview after the November 2011 Carnegie Hall debut recital of Tsujii, Van Cliburn said on TV Asahi, "What a thrill to hear this brilliant, very gifted, fabulous pianist. You feel God's presence in the room when he played. His soul is so pure. His music is so wonderful, and it goes to infinity to the highest heaven."[23]


Since his triumph at the Cliburn Competition, Tsujii has gained prominence in classical piano music, especially in his native Japan. His Cliburn CDs, as well as other CDs recorded before 2009, are now widely available. His official Van Cliburn disc (HMU 907505)sold well over 100,000 copies in one year.[24]

Following is a list of his CDs and DVDs, most recent first:

Since becoming a Van Cliburn winner, Tsujii has been performing in concerts all over the world. As of 2012, he is an IMG (International Management Group) artist.

Nobuyuki Tsujii has performed successfully with numerous orchestras under the baton of many conductors, both in Japan and abroad. Conductors that he performed with in recent years include [25] Yutaka Sado (BBC Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin), James Conlon (Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra), Randall Craig Fleischer( Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra), John Giordano (Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra). Thierry Fischer (Swiss Italian Orchestra), Vladimir Spivakov (Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra), Jean-Marie Zeitouni ( Edmonton Symphony Orchestra), Paolo Carignani (Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra), Inoue Mitiyoshi (Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa), Yuzo Toyama (NHK Symphony Orchestra ), Eliahu Inbal(Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra), Michael Collins[disambiguation needed] (Sinfonieorchester Basel), Lukasz Borowicz (Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Philharmonia Orchestra), Valery Gergiev (Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra), Kazuyoshi Akiyama (Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra), Tatsuya Shimono (Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra), Alexander Mickelthwate (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra), Stilian Kirov (substituting for Ludovic Morlot) (Seattle Symphony Orchestra), Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra), and Juanjo Mena (BBC Philharmonic).

Piano concertos that Nobuyuki Tsujii has performed include [26] Piano Concerto No. 1 (Beethoven), Piano Concerto No. 5 (Beethoven), Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky), Piano Concerto No. 3 (Prokofiev), Piano Concerto (Grieg), Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff), Piano Concerto No. 21 (Mozart), Piano Concerto No. 26 (Mozart), Piano Concerto No. 1 (Chopin), Piano Concerto No. 2 (Chopin). He will perform Piano Concerto (Ravel) in Japan with conductor Marc Minkowski in fall of 2014. In 2015, he is scheduled to perform Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff) with conductor Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Nobuyuki Tsujii was featured in an original short film "Lights of Japan" shown at the World Economics Summit in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2012.[27] In the film, he performed on a grand piano restored from the ravage of the March 2011 tsunami that devastated Eastern Japan.[28] Additionally, he performed in numerous charity concerts on behalf of Japan's earthquake and tsunami victims, including a UNESCO concert held in Paris on March 11, 2012.[29] Part of the proceeds from his 2012 'Flowers Bloom' CD goes towards Japan's earthquake reconstruction effort.[30]

In addition to his earthquake release effort, Nobuyuki Tsujii frequently performs benefit concerts at children's hospitals [31] as well as for other causes, such as the Japanese Red Cross.[32] [33]

In the summer of 2012, Nobuyuki Tsujii contributed to a one-million rubles donation from the proceeds of an acclaimed concert, in which he performed on July 8 with conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, to the victims of a flood in Kuban that occurred the night before.[34]


  1. ^ Century Orchestra Osaka website (Japanese)
  2. ^ "Artist Profile: Nobuyuki Tsujii" - Avex Classics (classical record company) website
  3. ^ interview,Chugoku Shimbun, evening edition, April 11, 2011
  4. ^ "A Surprise in Texas: The Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition", PBS, premiered Wednesday, September 1, 2010.
  5. ^ Nobu Piano-辻井伸行 Official WebSite
  6. ^ "Pianist Tsujii Nobuyuki composes theme song for Sho Sakurai’s upcoming movie", MomoEdwood's Media Watch, April 15, 2011
  7. ^ "Eita, Mitsushima Hikari co-star in 'Soredemo, Ikite Yuku'", TokyoGraph, May 9, 2011
  8. ^ "Midori Ito, 2nd Masters Elite II Free skating", YouTube Videos, June 22, 2011
  9. ^ "【辻井伸行】挑戦し続ける鍵盤アーティスト!映画音楽、グルメにカーネギー…", ZakZak, July 28, 2011
  10. ^ "松坂桃李がバイオリニスト、miwaがフルート奏者!『マエストロ!』に佐渡裕、辻井伸行が参加!", Cinema Today Japan, August 22, 2013
  11. ^ "Pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii Makes New York Recital Debut On Thursday, November 10 At Carnegie Hall", Carnegie Hall Press Release, September 30, 2011
  12. ^ "A Pianist’s Composition Rounds Off Debut Recital", New York Times Music Review, November 13, 2011
  13. ^ "Proms 2013 Nobuyuki Tsujii"
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "School textbooks feature 'hip' topics", The Yomiuri Shimbun, Mar. 29, 2012
  16. ^ Granberry, Michael,"Van Cliburn 2009: Piano is a passion for blind competitor", The Dallas Morning News, Tuesday May 26, 2009,
  17. ^ NHK video(NO.2761),"心癒やす至福”の音色 ~ピアニスト・辻井伸行~", NHK(Japan Broadcasting Corporation), July 2, 2009,
  18. ^ Chopin magazine website (Japanese)
  19. ^ Oda, Yuki, "'Nobu' Fever: Japan Falls for a Blind Piano Prodigy", Time magazine, Wednesday, November 18, 2009
  20. ^ Cantrell, Scott, in the Dallas Morning News, June 2009
  21. ^ Also quoted in the "Van Cliburn Foundation official Gold Medal Winner biography: Nobuyuki Tsujii"
  22. ^ Baird, Mike,"Japan's piano superstar will play with Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra", Corpus Christi Caller Times, Thursday October 7, 2010
  23. ^ BS-Asahi, 『奇跡のピアニスト 辻井伸行23歳 新たなる挑戦(仮)』(a Japanese TV documentary on the Carnegie Hall debut recital of Nobuyuki Tsujii), January 1, 2012
  24. ^ Nobuyuki Tsujii Chopin CD Product Description,
  25. ^ Nobuyuki Tsujii official website
  26. ^ Nobuyuki Tsujii official website
  27. ^ "The original short film 'Lights of Japan' for 'Japan Night' at Davos in 2012", Japanese Government Internet TV, February 3, 2012
  28. ^ 『ダボスJAPAN NIGHT から世界へ復興メッセージ小山薫堂氏が映像制作、各国のリーダーが集う会場で自然と拍手』, Japan Economics News, January 27, 2012]
  29. ^ "Disaster anniversary concert in Paris", House of Japan, March 12, 2012
  30. ^ "辻井伸行: 被災地の中学合唱団と共演「素晴らしい経験できた」(Nobuyuki Tsujii: Playing with junior high school choir in the disaster area was a great experience)", 毎日新聞 (Mainichi News), August 17, 2012
  31. ^ "ピアニスト辻井さん、こども病院で慰問コンサート(Pianist Mr. Tsujii , Children's Hospital charity concert)", 長野県内ニュース (Nagano News), October 16, 2012
  32. ^ Japan Red Cross News, December 2012, Vol.871
  33. ^ Japan Red Cross 50th Blood Donation Charity New Year Concert 2015, Sony Foundation, September 6 2014
  34. ^ "The Mariinsky Theatre helps victims of the flood in Kuban", Mariinsky Theatre Press Release, July 9, 2012

External links[edit]