Maki Ishii, a composer known for fusing Japanese and Western sounds, died Tuesday of thyroid cancer. He was 66.
Mr. Ishii died at a hospital near Tokyo where he was being treated, according to the artist ' s official Web site and media reports. The third son of Baku Ishii, a pioneer of modern Japanese dance, Mr. Ishii studied composition and conducting in his hometown of Tokyo and also in Berlin during the 1950s and 1960s. He wrote " So-gu " for shakuhachi a Japanese bamboo flute and the piano in the 1970s. He composed " Mono-Prism " for Japanese taiko drums and a Western orchestra in 1976. Mr. Ishii ' s two-act ballet " Kaguyahime " was performed extensively in Japan, the Netherlands and France between 1988 and 1993. He produced an opera, " Tojirareta Fune, " in 1999. He also conducted several orchestras during his career, including the Radio Symphony Orchestras of Berlin and Beijing and the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. Japan ' s emperor decorated him with the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 1999 for his innovations and contributions to Japanese music.
Mr. Ishii is survived by his wife, Christa, and two children.
Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on 4/12/2003.