Keiko Abe (1937)
Keiko Abe was born in Tokyo into a family of doctors and businessmen. As a child she studied piano, composition and percussion and, most notably, from the age of 12, the marimba. After forming her own trio playing commercial light classics, in 1962 she turned to the world of contemporary classical music. In the following years she was employed as an orchestral percussionist and released 13 albums which often included works composed for her on marimba and even had her own show on Japanese television. She has also contributed in no small way to the development of the marimba as an instrument, not only through her many commissions but also through her role as a design consultant to marimba manufacturers. With the increased range and resonance of the improved marimba, Abe began to compose, beginning with Variations on Japanese Children’s Songs and Wind in the Bamboo in the early 1980s. Recognised as the great virtuoso marimba players of our time, Abe has performed her own compositions - and those of many other notable composers - around the world.
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