Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Otaka, Hisatada

(b Tokyo, 26 Sept 1911; d Tokyo, 16 Feb 1951). Japanese composer and conductor, father of Otaka Tadaaki. He went to Vienna before graduating from high school and received his earliest music education there. In 1932 he returned to Tokyo, where he studied composition with Klaus Pringheim. He was back in Vienna in 1934, and there he studied composition with Marx and conducting with Weingartner at the Music Academy, while taking private lessons with Franz Moser. In 1936 he won a Weingartner Prize for the orchestral Nihon kumikyoku, and after his graduation in 1938 he was active as a conductor until he returned to Japan in 1940 and became the regular conductor of the Japan SO. As a composer he was an advocate of German Romanticism, combined with certain characteristics of Japanese nationalism; he wrote exclusively for instruments. After his early death the orchestra he had served as conductor instituted an Otaka Prize for composition in his memory.


(selective list)

Orch: Nihon kumikyoku [Japanese Suite], 1936; Ashiya otome [Ashiya Maiden], sym. poem, 1937; Rhapsody, pf, orch, 1943; Fl Conc., 1948; Sym., 1948

Chbr and solo inst: Sonata, vn, pf, 1932; Str Qt no.1, 1938; Pf Trio, 1941; Str Qt no.2, 1943; Nocturne, vc, pf, 1944; 3 Portraits, pf, 1949

Vocal: 6 Songs from the Man’yō-shū, T, pf, 1934; Karamatsu [The Larch], A, pf, 1950

Principal publisher: Ongaku-no-Tomo Sha


Otaka, Tadaaki

(b Kamakura, 8 Nov 1947). Japanese conductor, son of Hisatada Otaka. He attended the celebrated Toho Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo and came to Europe to further his studies at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik. He rejoined the Toho Gakuen College as a faculty member in 1970. That appointment was followed by prestigious conducting appointments within Japan: from 1974 to 1992 he was principal conductor of the Tokyo PO and from 1981 principal conductor of the Sapporo SO. Otaka's career was established in the West when in 1987 he became principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Cardiff, an appointment which took him to the Proms in 1991. In 1991 he also made his début with the WNO, conducting Salome. The following year he was appointed principal conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon SO in Tokyo, and in 1995 he became principal conductor of the newly formed Kioi Sinfonietta. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with the LSO, BBC SO, Oslo PO, Royal Liverpool PO and other orchestras. Admired both for his spacious, expressive readings of the central symphonic repertory and as an exponent of 20th-century music, Otaka has given a number of world premières, including Elena Firsova's Cassandra (1993) and several works by Toru Takemitsu: For Calls, Coming, far! (1980), Orion and Pleiades (1984) and Gemini (1986). Among his recordings are orchestral works by Franck, Elgar, Rachmaninoff and Lutosławski.


Otaño (y Eguino), Nemesio

(b Azcoitia, Guipúzcoa, 19 Dec 1880; d S Sebastián, 29 April 1956). Spanish composer and writer on music. He studied with the organists in various villages of Guipúzcoa. In 1896 he joined the Society of Jesus and was appointed organist of the Basilica of Loyola. He went to Valladolid in 1903 and there studied counterpoint and composition with Vicente Goicoechea, who encouraged him in his ideas for the reform of sacred music; together they organized the first National Sacred Music Congress in Valladolid in 1907. The same year Otaño founded the journal Música sacro hispana, which he ran for 15 years, achieving through it a radical reform and restoration of church music in Spain along the lines of Pius X’s Motu proprio. In 1911 he founded the Schola Cantorum at the seminary of Comillas, which became the model for countless other choirs at seminaries and in parishes throughout Spain. Otaño and his choir also set high standards for the performance of Gregorian chant and polyphony, for he had gained knowledge and experience by travelling all over Europe to hear the best choirs and study at monasteries. At the same time he worked incessantly as a lecturer, organizer and composer, all in the interests of sacred music.

Otaño’s compositions range from simple settings of popular songs to large-scale vocal-orchestral works. Of the former type, the sacred songs in popular style are particularly important; scored for voice and harmonium, they include such miniature jewels as Estrella hermosa, and have achieved great popularity in Spain. The larger compositions include the Suite vasca for six voices, the great Miserere for five voices and organ, the Gran himno a S Ignacio de Loyola for eight voices and orchestra, and the Holy Week responsories. All Otaño’s music is distinguished by accomplishment and propriety; his melody, even in simple pieces, avoids vulgarity and is perfectly constructed, while his harmony extends from the straightforward (intended for parish organists) to the Wagnerism of the Suite vasca.

In 1937 Otaño was appointed musical director of the national radio, and in 1939 he became director of the Madrid Conservatory. During these later years his concerns turned from sacred music and composition to administration and teaching, and the period of his directorship at the conservatory was decisive in renewing ideas about music teaching in the Spanish conservatories.


(selective list)

Edition: Nemesio Otaño: Obras completas (San Sebastián, 1956–71)

Choral: 12 cánticos al Sagrado Corazón, 1909; 8 cánticos a la Santísima Virgen, 1910; 8 letanías, 3/4vv, org, 1911; 12 canciones para la Sagrada Comunión, 1912; Suite vasca, 6vv, 1912; 21 canciones a María Santísima, 1917; Gran himno a S Ignacio de Loyola, 8vv, orch, 1917; Marcha real española, 6vv, orch; Miserere, 5vv, org; Responsorios del oficio de Semana Santa; folksong arrs.

Other works: songs, org pieces, some inst works


La música religiosa y la legislación eclesiástica (Barcelona, 1912)

El canto popular montañés (Santander, 1915)

Antonio Eximeno (Madrid, 1943)


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