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Masashi Hamauzu

Masashi Hamauzu Date of Birth: September 20, 1971 (Munich, Germany)
Education: Graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music
Musical Influences: His Father
Instruments Played: Piano (Also a Bass Vocalist)
Place of Residence: Tokyo
Joined Square: 1996
Official Web Site: Profile at Square Enix American Web Site


This biography was written by Totz exclusively for use at Square Enix Music Online. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission, as this is a violation of copyright.

One could say Masashi Hamauzu was destined to become a musician. With both parents being musicians — his mother a piano teacher and his father an opera singer — this was relatively simple to figure out. Born in Munich, Germany, he would only go to Japan years later, and would enroll in the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. While there, he met two people of huge importance to him: Shiro Hamaguchi, Square Enix's famous arranger, and the woman who would later become Mrs. Masashi Hamauzu. After he graduated, he started looking for work and ended up getting a job at Square as a trainee in 1995. Hamauzu's first contribution to game music was creating a few tracks for the Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard Original Sound Version in 1995, where he worked with Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Junya Nakano. In 1996, when he was no longer a trainee, he composed a few tracks for Tobal No. 1 on the PlayStation alongside a host of other resident Square composers. After that, he worked on Final Fantasy VII but was responsible for performance instead of composition or arrangement. He not only appeared as the synthesizer player for the rendition of Haydn's "The Creation," which was played during the FMV when the Sector 7 plate falls during the game, but was also part of the Bass Choir for "One Winged Angel." Could his opera singer father have something to do with this?

His first solo work would come in 1997 for the score of Square's abstract Final Fantasy spinoff Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon, which was released on the PlayStation. Unfortunately, not much of Hamauzu's style we all know and love was present in the Original Soundtrack, although the versatile usage of the Chocobo theme and the diverse use of instrumentation meant the score was strong nonetheless. Shortly after its release, he used the basis of this Original Soundtrack to create the orchestral arranged album Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon - Coi Valli Gianni alongside Yasuo Sako. Despite its stylistic diversity and high quality orchestration, the relative obscurity of the album meant it did not do much to make him more of a big name for Square. The world would only get to know the true Hamauzu in his next solo project — the score for SaGa Frontier 2. Released in 1999, the SaGa Frontier II Original Soundtrack was the long-anticipated sequel to Kenji Ito's popular SaGa Frontier Original Soundtrack. Fortunately, the mixture of its empathic use of the piano together with its light-hearted and diverse styles meant it gained a lot of popularity. An arranged album, Piano Pieces SF2 ~ Rhapsody on a Theme of SaGa Frontier 2, was released on the same year and consisted of a series of complex piano variations and orchestral arrangments of a number of themes from the Original Soundtrack.

After a two-year hiatus, Hamauzu came back in full force to compose for Final Fantasy X, alongside old colleagues Uematsu and Nakano. Working for the Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack was all he needed to get even more recognition. His tracks were full of creativity and brilliance for the most part and were often far superior to the other two composers' creations. In the following year, he produced the arrangements for the Final Fantasy X Piano Collections, which showcased even more of his Impressionist and Classical ideas. Even though his piano arrangements are top notch, ironically, he felt that arranging for the piano is the hardest thing he has ever done. In addition, he created the track "feel" to be used in another album of Final Fantasy X arrangements, namely feel/Go dream - Yuna & Tidus. With these three albums dependent on Hamauzu, it is clear that his role was of uttermost importance in ensuring the success of the game's original music and arrangements. Shortly after, at the end of 2002, Hamauzu wrote what is possibly his best work so far — the UNLIMITED: SaGa Original Soundtrack. Blending Classical instrumentation with modern electronic music, the album is choke-full of masterpieces. Credits also go to Hamauzu's old friend Hamaguchi, who orchestrated a few tracks, and to the sound programmer Ryo Yamazaki because both he and Hamauzu managed to get crystal-clear sound quality. Unfortunately, Hamauzu created no arranged album for this work, unlike his three other major works, and this seems quite a lost opportunity after the success of his previous arranged albums.

Masashi Hamauzu has been very busy recently, having recently released the score for Musashi: Samurai Legend (aka Musashiden II BLADEMASTER), the long-awaited sequel to Brave Fencer Musashi, which was unveiled in the Spring of 2005. The score saw him finally reunited with Junya Nakano, whom he had worked with for Final Fantasy X, and also saw him collaborate with Wavelink Zeal (Takayuki Iwai and Yuki Iwai), who also composed for the score. The album was mostly electronica-based, to the appeal of some and to the dismay of others, though there were plenty of symphonic creations to go round. His next work is even more high profile, and will involve the composition of the score to Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, the spin-off of the highly acclaimed game Final Fantasy VII, starring Vincent. While details are limited, it is known that the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus will be appearing in several tracks, and the score looks set to be very dramatic if Square Enix's samples are anything to go by. Its release date is now delayed to the first half of 2006, but should be a worthy wait that will satisfy Hamauzu's ever-growing legion of fans.

List of Game Projects

Note: This list only includes games that the composer has actively worked on, so those games that feature reprises of the composer's work from older titles are not included.

Key: C = Composer, A = Arranger, P = Performer, S = Sound Programmer, E = Sound Effects, M = Synthesizer Operator

Year Game Role
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1996 Front Mission: Gun Hazard C
Sony PlayStation
1997 Tobal No. 1 C
1997 Final Fantasy VII P
1997 Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon C+A
1999 SaGa Frontier 2 C+A
Sony PlayStation 2
2001 Final Fantasy X C+A
2005 Musashi: Samurai Legend (aka Musashiden II BLADEMASTER) C+A
2006 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII C+A

List of Albums

Original Scores

Arranged Albums

Other Albums

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