• Kyodo

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Japanese composer Ikuma Dan died of heart failure early Thursday at a hospital in Suzhou, China, his family said. He was 77.

Dan was traveling in China as head of a delegation of the Japan China Culture Exchange Association, they said.

Following a visit to Beijing, Dan arrived along with others in Suzhou on Wednesday. He suddenly fell ill during the night and was transferred to a local hospital, where he died.

Born in Tokyo, Dan graduated from the Tokyo Music School — the forerunner of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music — in 1945.

He entered the limelight in 1952 with his opera, “Yuzuru,” based on the Japanese folk tale “The Grateful Crane.”

The opera, which has been performed more than 600 times and has been honored with a number of awards, has been dubbed as the leading opera written by a Japanese composer.

Dan also composed symphonies and film music. He played an important role in making Western classical music more accessible to the public, and was also a popular host of televised pop concerts.

Dan was chosen to compose the jubilee march to fete the wedding of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess in 1993.

He also attracted widespread popularity as an essayist. A series of his essays, titled “The Smoke of a Pipe,” was run in a magazine over a period of more than three decades.

In November 1999, he was designated by the government as a person who had performed distinguished services in the field of culture.

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