Over the last fifteen years, Philip Glass has defined a new form of biographical opera. There was never any doubt that he would be the ideal composer for Mishima, a mosaic film biography. I wanted a score which would unite the film’s disparate elements and propel it forward. Such a score, by definition, would be a distinct, cohesive composition.
I only wondered how to induce Glass. Money was out of the question: the film was already an egregiously under-budgeted labor of love production. I opted for a soft sell. (I’ve subsequently learned how remarkably resistant Philip is to a hard one.) I simply gave him the script and all the materials by and about Mishima at my disposal.
Philip responded enthusiastically and after several pre-production meetings and a trip to the Tokyo locations, wrote a score from the script as he would from a libretto. With Kurt Munkacsi and Michael Riesman he recorded a temp synthesizer version.
I edited the film to this temp score, altering it as necessary: cutting, expanding and repeating cues. I then played the edited film and score for Philip. He rewrote the music to fit the film’s now-precise specifications and recorded it with a full orchestra. Later, he supervised last-minute changes during the final mix.
In keeping with the original concept, Glass has re-edited the score as a distinct musical entity. His Mishima equally serves the film and stands alone.
— Paul Schrader
Original music composed by Philip Glass. Conducted by Michael Riesman. String quartets performed by The Kronos Quartet: David Harrington, violin. John Sherba, violin. Hank Dutt, viola. Joan Jeanrenaud, cello.
Published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP). © 1985 Nonesuch Records.