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Koichi Sugiyama

Koichi Sugiyama

Japanese music composer
Koichi Sugiyama
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Japanese music composer
Is Musician Composer Conductor Music arranger Pianist
From Japan
Type Music
Gender male
Birth 11 April 1931, Tokyo
Age 90 years
The details (from wikipedia)


Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやま こういち, Sugiyama Kōichi, born April 11, 1931) is a Japanese composer, conductor, and orchestrator. He is also a council member of the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers (JASRAC), board member of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and honorary chairman of the Japanese Backgammon Society. Sugiyama is best known for composing the music for the Dragon Quest video game series, which is published by Square Enix, along with several other Japanese anime, film, and television shows. A classically trained conductor, Sugiyama is considered a major inspiration for other Japanese game music composers, such as Nobuo Uematsu, and was once referred to as the "big boss of game music".


Early life and television career

Sugiyama was born in Tokyo, Japan. While growing up, Sugiyama's home was filled with music, which ultimately inspired his passion. In high school, he began to recognize his passion, and wrote various small musical works.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo with full honours in 1958, he went into the reporting and entertainment sections of cultural broadcasting. In addition, he joined the Fuji Telecasting Co. as a director. In 1965, he left the telecasting company as a freelance director, and in 1968, he quit directing and concentrated solely on musical composition and orchestration.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sugiyama composed for musicals, commercials, pop artists, and for animated movies and television shows, such as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The Movie, The Sea Prince and the Fire Child, and Cyborg 009. He also assisted Riichiro Manabe with the composition for Godzilla vs. Hedorah, composing the record single of the soundtrack, and conducting for some of the tracks.

Dragon Quest and video game career

Sugiyama's first contact with Enix was by a fan letter he wrote them regarding a PC shogi game in the early 1980s. After Enix's staff overcame the shock of receiving a handwritten postcard from a celebrity of Sugiyama's stature, they were so impressed by his depth of knowledge and appreciation of games that they decided to ask Sugiyama to create music for their games.

Sugiyama started composing for the PC-8801, and was working for Enix at the time. His first project with Enix was the 1985 game World Golf. In 1986, he composed for his first major project, Dragon Quest, for the Famicom. Dragon Quest would become the series he was most known for. Sugiyama says it took him five minutes to compose the original opening theme. His classical score for the game was considered revolutionary for console video game music.

Sugiyama was the first video game composer to record his video game music with a live orchestra. In 1986, the CD, Dragon Quest I Symphonic Suite, was released, utilizing the London Philharmonic Orchestra to interpret Sugiyama's melodies. The soundtrack's eight melodies (Opening, Castle, Town, Field, Dungeon, Battle, Final Battle, and Ending) set the template for most role-playing video game soundtracks released since then, hundreds of which have been organized in a similar manner.

In 1987, he composed for Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line, and then held the very first video game music concert in history. "Family Classic Concert" was arranged and conducted by Sugiyama himself. It was performed by the Tokyo String Music Combination Playing Group on August 20, 1987 at Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan. "Dragon Quest I Symphonic Suite" and "Dragon Quest II Symphonic Suite" were performed. The "Family Classic Concerts" have always had excellent turn outs; since then, Sugiyama has held over eighteen of them all across Japan.

From 1987 to 1990, Sugiyama continued to compose for various other Enix games. In 1991, he introduced a series of video game music concerts, five in all, called the Orchestral Game Concerts, which were performed by the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. The performances included over eighteen different video game composers, such as Koji Kondo, Yoko Kanno, Nobuo Uematsu, Keiichi Suzuki, as well as Sugiyama himself. These concerts were held from 1991 to 1996; during this time, Sugiyama composed for other video games and arranged for some of them to be performed in the Orchestral Game Concerts.

In September 1995, Sugiyama composed the Dragon Quest Ballet. It premiered in 1996, and returned in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002. During those years, he also released the Symphonic Suites for the Dragon Quest games he had worked on thus far. In late 2004, he finished and released the Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King soundtrack, and conducted the Dragon Quest VIII Symphonic Suite in 2005.

In 2005, Sugiyama was holding a series of concerts in Japan with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra with music from Dragon Quest VIII, as well as his classic compositions from the past. In August 2005, his music from Dragon Quest was performed live at the European Symphonic Game Music Concert. There, for the first time, his music was presented in a live symphonic concert outside Japan. Sugiyama returned once again to compose the music for Dragon Quest X, and its expansions Nemureru Yuusha to Michibiki no Meiyuu Online and Inishie no Ryuu no Denshou Online.

Sugiyama's non-work related hobbies include photography, traveling, building model ships, collecting old cameras, and reading. He has opened a camera section on his website, and he also has his own record label "SUGI Label" which he started on June 23, 2004. Sugiyama also has completed other projects, such as the fanfares for the opening and closing of the gates in the Tokyo Race Track and the Nakayama Race Track.


Throughout Sugiyama's works, motifs repeat themselves to maintain a consistency and nostalgic quality in the different installments. This is especially true for the Dragon Quest series. Each of the games include a nearly identical, upbeat theme song titled "Overture." In addition, Dragon Quest III-IX include a simple, casual tune on the saved game selection screen titled "Intermezzo."

Sugiyama's style of composition has been compared to late Baroque and early Classical period styles. Composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Gustav Mahler, and George Frideric Handel are some of his inspirations, along with the type of melodic styles heard during the mid-20th century of American cinema. The influence of Arnold Schoenberg can also be heard in some of his more experimental compositions, notably starting from Dragon Quest IV.


Year Title Role Co-worker
1967 Skyers 5 Composition/arrangement
(Opening theme)
1971 The Return for Ultraman Composition/arrangement
(Opening theme)
1976 Machine Hayabusa Composition/arrangement
(Opening and ending themes)
1978 Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The Movie Composition/arrangement
1979 Cyborg 009 Composition/arrangement
Jigoku no Mushi Composition/arrangement
1980 Space Runaway Ideon Composition/arrangement
Cyborg 009: Legend of the Super Galaxy Composition/arrangement
1981 The Sea Prince and the Fire Child Composition/arrangement
1983 The Yearling Composition/arrangement
1989 Godzilla vs. Biollante Composition/arrangement
1991 Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken Composition (Re-used)
1992 Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken Tachiagare!! Aban no Shito Composition (Re-used)
Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken Buchiya bure!! Shinsei Rokudai Shoguo Composition (Re-used)
1994 Magic Knight Rayearth Music supervision
1995 Magic Knight Rayearth 2 Music supervision
Video games
Year Title Role Co-worker
1985 World Golf Composition
1986 Wingman 2 Composition
Dragon Quest Composition
1987 Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line Composition
Jesus Composition
Gandhara: Buddha no Seisen Composition
Animal Land Satsujin Jiken Composition
World Golf II Composition
Wingman Special: Saraba Yume Senshi Composition
1988 Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation Composition
1989 Angelus: The Gospel on Evil Composition
Star Command: Kurayami no Shinryakusha Composition
1990 Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen Composition
Backgammon Composition
46 Okunen Monogatari: The Shinka Ron Composition
World Golf III Composition
1991 Akagawa Jirou no Yuurei Ressha Composition
Jesus 2 Composition
Master of Monsters (Mega Drive) Music supervision
Tetris 2 & BomBliss Composition
1992 Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Composition/arrangement
Hanjyuku Hero: Aah Sekai yo Hanjuku Nare Composition/arrangement
E.V.O.: Search for Eden Composition
1993 Monopoly Composition/arrangement
Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon Composition/arrangement
1995 Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation Composition/arrangement
1996 Fushigi no Dungeon: Fuurai no Shiren GB Composition (Re-used)
1998 Dragon Quest Monsters Composition
1999 Torneko: The Last Hope Composition/arrangement
2000 Dragon Quest VII Composition/arrangement
Shiren the Wanderer 2 Composition/arrangement
2001 Dragon Quest Monsters 2 Composition
Derby Stallion 64 Composition
Dragon Quest Characters: Torneko no Daibouken 2 Advance Composition
2002 Dragon Quest Monsters 1+2 Composition (Re-used) Hayato Matsuo
Dragon Quest Characters: Torneko no Daibouken 3 Composition/arrangement
2003 Slime Morimori Dragon Quest Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart Composition/arrangement
2004 Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King Composition/arrangement
2005 Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime Composition/arrangement
2006 Dragon Quest: Shounen Yangus to Fushigi no Dungeon Composition/arrangement Hayato Matsuo
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker Composition/arrangement
2007 Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road Composition (Re-used)
2009 Dragon Quest Wars Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road II Legends Composition (Re-used)
2010 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road Victory Composition (Re-used)
2011 Slime Mori Mori Dragon Quest 3 Composition/arrangement
2012 Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3D Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest X: Mezameshi Itsutsu no Shuzoku Online Composition/arrangement
2013 Dragon Quest X: Nemureru Yuusha to Michibiki no Meiyuu Online Composition/arrangement
2014 Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru and Luca's Marvelous Mysterious Key Composition/arrangement
2015 Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below Composition/arrangement
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest Composition (Re-used)
Dragon Quest X: Inishie no Ryuu no Denshou Online Composition/arrangement
2016 Dragon Quest Builders Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 Composition/arrangement
Dragon Quest Heroes II Composition/arrangement
2017 Dragon Quest XI Composition/arrangement

Political activities

In the 1970s, Sugiyama campaigned against the perceived inequality between various voter blocks from different prefectures in Japan.

In 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 121, seeking an official apology from the Government of Japan regarding so-called "comfort women", women who were used as sexual slaves by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Sugiyama was opposed to this resolution, stating that he believed the evidence surrounding the Nanking Massacre and comfort women was selective in nature. His first attempt at publishing his opposition (a full-page letter titled "The Facts") was initially rejected by the Washington Post and New York Times. However, the Washington Post would eventually agree to publish it.

In 2010, Sugiyama (along with other media activists) launched "Media Patrol Japan", a website tasked with monitoring Japanese media for greater impartiality and representation.

Sugiyama is opposed to the illegal copying of music, stating on his website that "Humans have human rights, music has copyright."

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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