Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやま こういち, Sugiyama Kōichi; birth name: 椙山 浩一, Sugiyama Kōichi) was a Japanese musician. He was the lead composer of the Dragon Quest series from its inception up to his death in 2021.
Sugiyama began composing music while in high school. After graduating from the University of Tokyo will full honors, he worked as a director at Fuji TV until 1965, when he decided to focus only on music and orchestral arrangements.
History with Dragon Quest
After answering a questionnaire for the home computer game Morita Kazurō no Shogi, Sugiyama was contacted by its publisher Enix to compose for their Famicom video game Dragon Quest. His classical-influenced score for the game was critically acclaimed, considered revolutionary for a console game at the time. The score was eventually recorded by the Tokyo Strings Ensemble (conducted by Sugiyama) for Dragon Quest Suite, the first full-length album to feature video game music performed with live instruments. The practice has been repeated for every mainline Dragon Quest game, with the original soundtracks re-recorded by full orchestras for the Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest albums.
After composing for Dragon Quest II, Sugiyama held the Family Classic Concert at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, in August 20, 1987. It was the first video game music concert, with the scores of Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II arranged and conducted by Sugiyama. The Family Classic Concert became an annual event, with thirty-three concerts held between 1986 and 2019.
From 1991 to 1996, Sugiyama promoted the Orchestral Game Concerts, featuring music from over eighteen video game composers (including Sugiyama) performed by the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. During this time, Sugiyama composed for other video games and had some of their soundtracks included in the Orchestral Game Concerts.
In 1996, Sugiyama debuted Ballet Dragon Quest, a ballet performance from the Star Dancers troupe set to music from the first six Dragon Quest games. Ballet Dragon Quest has since been staged eleven times between 1996 and 2019.
In 2005, he held a series of concerts in Japan with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra to promote Dragon Quest VIII. In August of that year, music from Dragon Quest was performed live for the first time outside of Japan at the European Symphonic Game Music Concert.
In 2006, Sugiyama worked on multiple projects, including the score for Dragon Quest Swords. On August 19, 2006, Sugiyama was interviewed by Japanese video game magazine Famitsu. Asked about progress on Dragon Quest IX, he answered, "I'm not sure when Dragon Quest IX will be released, but it seems that progress is continually being made. I'm personally excited."
Sugiyama continued to work on further Dragon Quest material over the following decade and beyond, producing the soundtracks for Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest XI, and several spin-offs. Although he was unusually politically active in his personal life, Sugiyama's works by and large did not reflect his stances on Japanese culture of the time.
Dragon Quest Discography
- Dragon Quest (1986)
- Dragon Quest II: Akuryo no Kamigami (1987)
- Dragon Quest III: Soshite Densetsu he (1988)
- Dragon Quest IV: Michibikareshi Monotachi (1990)
- Hanjyuku Hero: Aah Sekai yo Hanjuku Nare (1992)
- Divertimento ~ Hanjuku Hero (1993)
- Dragon Quest V: Tenku no Hanayome (1992)
- Torneko no Daiboken: Fushigi no Dungeon (1993)
- Itadaki Street 2: Neon Sign ha Bara Iro ni (1994)
- Dragon Quest VI: Maboroshi no Daichi (1995)
- Dragon Warrior Monsters (1998)
- Torneko: The Last Hope (1999)
- Dragon Quest Monsters 1·2 (2000)
- Dragon Quest VII: Eden no Senshitachi (2000)
- Torneko: The Last Hope (2000)
- Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (2001)
- Slime Morimori Dragon Quest (2003)
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart (2003)
- Itadaki Street Special (2004)
- Dragon Quest VIII: Sora to Umi to Daichi to Norowareshi Himegimi (2004) (also conductor)
- Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (2005)
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (2006)
- Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors (2006)
- Dragon Quest IX (2009)
- Gifford, Kevin (2011-07-16) "The Essential 50 Part 20 -- Dragon Warrior" 1UP.com. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
- "Koichi Sugiyama's official Family Classic Concerts listing". Retrieved 2021-10-07.
- Kiya, Andrew (2021-10-07) "Dragon Quest Series Composer Koichi Sugiyama Has Died". Siliconera. Retrieved 2021-10-07.