Alex James's Date Night - Saturday 17 January 2015

The birthday of Japanese composer Sakamoto is among the anniversaries marked by Alex for the week ahead.

Tonight Alex begins with a focus on two very different musicians, both born on this day: the Baroque organist and composer John Stanley, and the Japanese multi-genre composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (pictured), whose hypnotic piano music has won him millions of fans across the globe.

John Stanley was almost blinded in an accident at the age of two but he excelled at the organ and by the age of 11 was employed as organist at All Hallows in London. At 17, he became the youngest ever person to obtain a B.Mus. degree at Oxford. His playing attracted the attention of Handel who regularly attended his performances. In 1779 Stanley was named Master of the King's Musick. In this capacity he composed many New Year and Birthday odes to King George III.

Ryuichi Sakamoto began his career in 1978 as a member of the electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra. He concurrently pursued a solo career, pursuing a wide variety of projects, including composing music for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics opening ceremony. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) marked his debut as a film score composer and as an actor. The film's score received a BAFTA Award. He won a Golden Globe Award for The Sheltering Sky (1990), plus another Golden Globe, Grammy, and Academy Award for The Last Emperor (1987).

Also tonight Alex asks why, on 18 January 1958, did Leonard Bernstein pose the question “What does music mean?”  And which world-famous British conductor is celebrating his 60th birthday on Monday?