Japan's leading composer, Ikuma Dan orchestrated six symphony pieces, seven operas, and countless songs, though he was likely best known for his first opera, 1952's Yuzuru.
Born in April 1924, Dan graduated from the Tokyo Academy of Music (since renamed Tokyo University of Arts) in 1946, soon becoming a chartered composer at the Japanese public broadcaster NHK before composing his freshman symphony and opera. Dedicating a celebration march to the wedding of Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko in 1959, he repeated the gesture for their son, Crown Prince Hiruhito, when he married Crown Princess Masako in 1993. Dan brought Japanese orchestral music and opera to China in 1979, with a performance of Yuzuru; taught as a guest lecturer at China's most renowned academies; conducted the Beijing and Shanghai orchestras; and was named president of the Sino-Japanese Cultural Exchange Association for his devotion to cultural exchange. A descendent of rich heritage, Dan's grandfather, Baron Takuma Dan, was president of Mitsui and Co. and was assassinated by a rightist in 1932. Dan's film work included compositions for such films as 1958's The Rikisha-Man and Okuman Choja (1954).
In May 2001, Ikuma Dan died of heart failure at a hospital in Sachou, China, during a visit as part of a Sino-Japanese cultural exchange mission.