Final Fantasy is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and owned by Square Enix that includes video games, motion pictures, and other merchandise. The original Final Fantasy video game, published in 1987, is a role-playing video game developed by Square, spawning a video game series that became the central focus of the franchise. The primary composer of music for the main series was Nobuo Uematsu, who single-handedly composed the soundtracks for the first nine games, as well as directing the production of many of the soundtrack albums. Music for the spin-off series and main series games beginning with Final Fantasy X was created by a variety of composers including Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Kumi Tanioka, as well as many others.
Music from the franchise has been performed numerous times in concert tours and other live performances such as the Orchestral Game Music Concerts, Symphonic Game Music Concerts, and the Play! A Video Game Symphony and the Video Games Live concert tours, as well as forming the basis of specific Final Fantasy concerts and concert series. The first such concert was the 20020220 Music from Final Fantasy concert on February 20, 2002, which sparked a six-concert tour in Japan entitled Tour de Japon: Music from Final Fantasy beginning in March 2004. A North American concert series titled Dear Friends -Music From Final Fantasy- followed from 2004–2005, and after its conclusion was followed with the More Friends: Music from Final Fantasy concert on May 16, 2005. Voices - Music from Final Fantasy was a concert held in Yokohama, Japan on February 18, 2006 focusing on vocal pieces from the series. The longest running Final Fantasy concert series so far is the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert tour, which began in 2007 and continues to date around the world. The latest officially licensed concert is Final Symphony, featuring music from Final Fantasy VI, VII and X. All of these concerts have played only music from the main Final Fantasy series, and do not include music from the multiple spin-off series with the exception of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, the 2005 computer animated film sequel to Final Fantasy VII.
20020220 - Music from Final Fantasy was the first official concert devoted to music from across the Final Fantasy series. A previous concert, Final Fantasy Symphonic Suite, had been performed on May 20, 1989 for a limited audience to create an orchestral version of the soundtracks of Final Fantasy I and II, which have only been released together. The music of 20020220 was arranged for orchestra from the original songs composed by Nobuo Uematsu primarily by Uematsu himself and Shiro Hamaguchi, with "To Zanarkand" and "Yuna's Decision" arranged by Masashi Hamauzu, and was performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra on February 20, 2002 at the Tokyo International Forum. The orchestra was conducted by Taizou Takemoto, and the concert was hosted by Masakazu Morita and Mayuko Aoki, the Japanese voice actors for Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy X.
The orchestra played 17 songs over a period of almost two hours. The setlist ranged covered songs from the very first Final Fantasy game through Final Fantasy X, the latest game to have been released. Their rendition of "Suteki da Ne" from Final Fantasy X was accompanied by Japanese folk singer Ritsuki Nakano, known as "RIKKI", who sang the track in the original game. Similarly, "Melodies of Life" from Final Fantasy IX was performed by Emiko Shiratori, the original performer for the song in that game's soundtrack. "At Zanarkand" and "Yuna's Decision", both from Final Fantasy X, were solo piano pieces performed by Aki Kuroda, while "Liberi Fatali" and "One-Winged Angel" saw the orchestra combined with a small chorus. Kiyotsugu Amano performed guitar accompaniment for "Dear Friends" (Final Fantasy V) and "Vamo' Alla Flamenco" (Final Fantasy IX).
An album based on a live recording of the concert was released on May 9, 2002 by DigiCube, and was subsequently re-released on July 22, 2004 by Square Enix. The album spans 25 tracks over two discs and covers a duration of 1:47:27, and includes the initial tuning of the orchestra, the speeches given by the MC, and the songs themselves. The album was well received by critics and was termed an "amazing soundtrack" and "probably the best Final Fantasy arranged album ever made" by Robert Bogdanowicz of RPGFan. Liz Maas of RPGFan agreed; although she found there to be a lack of actual innovation overall, she felt the music was "wonderful" and the album as a whole "rather enjoyable". Patrick Dell of Soundtrack Central felt that the album was "wonderful" and "an impressive display", although he greatly disliked the performance of the choir. Dave of Square Enix Music Online was not as impressed by the album, saying that many of the performances were "lacking cohesion and direction", although he felt that overall it was "satisfactory" and "worth repeated listens". Sophia of Square Enix Music Online, on the other hand, felt that it was a "fantastic album" and a "must have".
Tour de Japon - Music from Final Fantasy (or Tour de Japon) was a concert tour featuring music from the Final Fantasy video game series that toured Japan from March 12 to April 16, 2004. The tour was built upon the success of the 20020220 Music from Final Fantasy concert, and featured seven concerts in six cities. The series of concerts featured music composed by Nobuo Uematsu and arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi. The orchestras were conducted by Taizō Takemoto, as the orchestra in 20020220 had been. Uematsu guest conducted the encores for each performance; he used a borrowed baton that he had snapped and taped together. Tour de Japon featured fewer non-orchestra performances than 20020220; "Opera "Maria & Draco"" featured the singing of Etsuyo Ota, Tomoaki Watanabe, and Tetsuya Odagawa, while Manami Kiyota and Yuji Hasegawa performed songs from Final Fantasy Song Book: Mahoroba during the intermission. Different orchestras were used in each performance; these were the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic, Kyushu Symphony, and Osaka Symphoniker Orchestra. One of the performances was recorded and released exclusively on DVD to Nobuo Uematsu Fan Club members.
Dear Friends - Music from Final Fantasy was a concert tour featuring music from the Final Fantasy video game series that toured the United States from 2004 to 2005. The concert was the first Final Fantasy concert tour for North America and featured record sales and sold-out concerts. The series of concerts featured music composed by Nobuo Uematsu from the later releases of the series. The name of the concert series, in addition to being the name a Final Fantasy V piece that is played at the concerts, was chosen by Uematsu to represent his appreciation for the support given to him by fans of his music and of the Final Fantasy series.
The series was originally conceived as a single concert to be held on May 10, 2004, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya. The concert was hosted by James Arnold Taylor, the English voice actor for Final Fantasy X's Tidus, and featured large screens hanging above the orchestra playing scenes relevant to the music being performed. Like the concerts before it, Dear Friends featured several groups and instruments in addition to the orchestra, including a guitar for "Dear Friends", castagnettes for "Vamo' Alla Flamenco", and piano for "At Zanarkand" and "Cloud Smiles", which at the time was not named and was only known to be featured in the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. The encore piece, "One-Winged Angel", saw the orchestra joined by a full choir, the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
The concert was termed "a complete success" by IGN, who commented that they "walked away impressed with the performance, the presentation, and the timelessness of Uematsu's compositions". The response to the concert was greater than expected, with tickets selling out in three days. After "many fans pleaded for another chance to see the concert", Dear Friends was expanded into a full concert tour the following year, conducted by Arnie Roth. Roth took on the role of conductor for the series after trying to get the show to be performed by his Chicago Pops orchestra, and hearing that other tour locations were hesitant about putting on the concert. He has said that he tried to add to the concerts his personal touch in the areas of "drama and timing". Different orchestras were used in each performance, though the format and setlist remained the same.
More Friends was a single concert performed while the Dear Friends series was still touring. It was meant to loosely correspond with the one-year anniversary of the first Dear Friends concert, also held in Los Angeles. The concert contained a selection of musical tracks from the games, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, arranged for orchestra by Shiro Hamaguchi, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and Michio Okamiya, and performed by an orchestra conducted by Arnie Roth on May 16, 2005 at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, California. Much like the 20020220 concert, they were accompanied by several different groups. The Black Mages, a band led by Nobuo Uematsu that arranges Final Fantasy music into a rock music style, performed their songs "The Rocking Grounds" and "Maybe I'm a Lion", and joined with the orchestra to perform "One-Winged Angel", while RIKKI sang "Suteki da Ne" as she had in the original game. Emiko Shiratori performed both the Japanese and English versions of "Melodies of Life" in a single piece, opera singers Stephenie Woodling, Chad Berlinghier, and Todd Robinson sang the vocal components of "Opera "Maria & Draco"", and the CSUF University Singers, a local choir, performed as part of "One-Winged Angel".
A recorded album was released on February 15, 2006 by Square Enix with the catalog number SQEX-10065. The album spans 13 tracks and covers a duration of 74:54. The album was well received by critics such as Patrick Gann of RPGFan, who said that "the recording quality is great, almost every song is aimed to please, and rarely do Square Enix fail in this regard". Sophia of Square Enix Music Online concurred, terming it "An album with a little bit of everything" and "a must-have for any Final Fantasy fan".
Voices - Music from Final Fantasy was a concert held in Yokohama, Japan on February 18, 2006 featuring vocal arrangements of Final Fantasy music. Based on compositions by Nobuo Uematsu, the music was performed by the Prima Vista Philharmonic Orchestra in the Pacifico Yokohama Conference and Convention Center, conducted by Arnie Roth, and sung by various performers. The 16 pieces and two encore songs were interspersed with announcements by Uematsu and Rieko Katayama, the MC. As in previous Final Fantasy concerts, many of the pieces were sung by the original performers from the game. Emiko Shiratori sang "Melodies of Life", Rikki performed "Suteki da ne", Izumi Masuda reprised her role in "Memoro de la Ŝtono", and Angela Aki sang "Kiss me Good-bye", to date the only song from Final Fantasy XII to be performed at a Final Fantasy concert. Angela Aki also sang "Eyes on Me", originally sung by Faye Wong in Final Fantasy VIII. The Black Mages performed their song "Advent: One Winged Angel" along with the orchestra. Other local singers and choirs joined the orchestra for the remaining pieces, with Etsuyo Ota, Tomoaki Watanabe, and Tetsuya Odagawa performing "Opera "Maria and Draco"" as they had in the Tour de Japon two years prior. A DVD of the performance was released on June 21, 2006, containing a recording of the full concert as well as interviews with Nobuo Uematsu, Arnie Roth, and the vocalists.
Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy is a concert tour featuring music from the Final Fantasy series that began touring on December 4, 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden and continues to date. Unlike previous tours, it is a worldwide tour. Produced by AWR Music Productions and supported by Thomas Böcker in a consultative capacity (from 2007 to 2011), the series of concerts features music conducted by Arnie Roth and composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Launched in conjunction with the twentieth anniversary of Final Fantasy, the two-hour-long concerts include music from every single game of the series. Like the Dear Friends concerts, giant video screens display video and art stills in order to accompany the music being played. During the tour, additional songs have been added to the setlist. These include "Ronfaure" from Final Fantasy XI, added on April 11, 2009, "Man With A Machine Gun" from Final Fantasy VIII, added on June 18, 2009, "Main Theme of FFVII", added October 8, 2009, and "Dancing Mad" from Final Fantasy VI and "J-E-N-O-V-A" from Final Fantasy VII, added December 12, 2009.
After the Distant Worlds II concert in Stockholm, the additional pieces performed were added to the setlist, and for every concert afterward different songs out of that rotation have been chosen for each performance. "Kiss Me Goodbye" from Final Fantasy XII was played at the June 18, 2010 Detroit show, though it was not officially added to the general setlist. It was played again at the April 1, 2011 concert in New York City, which featured an expanded setlist over two concerts. In April 2011 Square Enix announced that the concert series was expected to run for at least three more years. Uematsu has said that he prefers for the tour to add arrangements of older pieces from the series, as he feels that they are what fans are more interested in; he and Roth intend to continue to add more arrangements to the setlist. He was hesitant for pieces from Final Fantasy XIII and XIV to be added, as he did not feel that they had been around long enough to build a strong following like the older songs.
Released on December 4, 2007 to coincide with the first concert of the tour, the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy album features the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and contains most songs performed at that concert. It was recorded in August 2007 at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The CD is sold at all of the concert venues and online at the official website. The album received mixed reviews from critics, with Patrick Gann of RPGFan saying that "The recording quality is decent, the performance is standard, and it's all the classic Final Fantasy you've come to love", but expressing disappointment that the album contained only one new arrangement, with the other songs composed of arrangements originally made for other concerts. Andre of Square Enix Music Online, however, despite also wishing for more original arrangements, felt that the quality was superb and that the album as a whole was "one of life and energy." Chris of Square Enix Music Online also praised the album, finding similar features and flaws.
Distant Worlds II: More Music From Final Fantasy was a concert in the Distant Worlds series featuring music from Final Fantasy that was performed on June 12, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden, just as the first Distant Worlds concert was. Arnie Roth returned to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra with a completely new program presenting more pieces from Final Fantasy. Simultaneously with the concert, a new CD with the same repertoire was released under the name Distant Worlds II: Music From Final Fantasy. The recording was done by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Arnie Roth in January 2010. The name Distant Worlds II only refers to the Stockholm concert; the series itself has continued under the original Distant Worlds name with the new arrangements added to its permanent rotation.
Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy Returning Home was a concert in the Distant Worlds series conducted by Arnie Roth featuring music composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu from the Final Fantasy series. The concert was performed on November 6 and 7, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan, by the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra with guest performances from vocalists Frances Maya and Susan Calloway, among others. The concert premiered several arrangements from Final Fantasy XIII and XIV, which were then added to the general rotation. The entire 2010 Japan concert was recorded live for a DVD and 2-CD set which was later released on January 19, 2011.
Since 2007, over 80 concerts have been held in the Distant Worlds series, some consisting of multiple performances.
Beginning in 2014, Square Enix began touring a new series, A New World, which featured cut-down versions of the arrangements for Distant Worlds, edited by Arnie Roth, and played in smaller venues. The concerts, marketed as more "intimate" versions of the Distant Worlds concerts, feature more solo and duet performances to correspond with their smaller chamber orchestras. Like the main concert series, A New World is an international series, with over 30 performances in America, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Malaysia. An album of music from the concert was made available as a digital album to purchase on Bandcamp on August 22, 2014.
Final Symphony is an official concert tour featuring music from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X. The world premiere took place May 11, 2013 in Wuppertal, Germany where it was performed twice by the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra at the venue Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal. A performance by the London Symphony Orchestra took place May 30, 2013 in London at the Barbican Centre. It marked the first live performance of video game music by the London Symphony Orchestra, making a historical moment for the Final Fantasy franchise and video game music in general. At Final Symphony in Wuppertal and London, Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu were in attendance. At the performances by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, both composers talked about their work on the series on stage of the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan concert venue. Final Symphony Tokyo was the first video game music concert ever to be greeted with standing ovations in Japan. Additional performances took place in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the USA. The tour continues to date.
The pieces were arranged by Masashi Hamauzu, one of the composers for Final Fantasy X, along with Jonne Valtonen and Roger Wanamo, and the arranged works are based on compositions by him and Nobuo Uematsu, who acts as a consultant for the concerts. Thomas Böcker is producing the concerts, as he had done for numerous other video game music concerts in Germany, Sweden and Japan (Symphonic Game Music Concert series). Eckehard Stier conducts, who is experienced in the field of video game music due to his work on the CD album Drammatica by Yoko Shimomura and the Symphonic Fantasies concerts in Tokyo. The concert featured pianist Benyamin Nuss in 2013 (Wuppertal and London), Mischa Cheung in 2014 (Tampere), with Katharina Treutler being the main pianist of the concert series, performing at the events in Tokyo, Aarhus and Stockholm in 2014, and Amsterdam, San Diego, Baltimore and San Francisco in 2016.
On October 10, 2014, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra released a video of its critically acclaimed performance of the Final Fantasy VI Symphonic Poem from Final Symphony Stockholm online (available to watch for free and on demand). The Final Symphony album, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra in the presence of composer Nobuo Uematsu at London’s Abbey Road Studios, was released early 2015.
Final Symphony II
Final Symphony was followed by Final Symphony II, a concert of music from Final Fantasy V, VIII, IX, and XIII. It features long arrangements like the Final Symphony concerts. The majority of the music was originally composed by Nobuo Uematsu, while the Final Fantasy XIII suite was originally composed by Masashi Hamauzu. Valtonen created the arrangements for the Final Fantasy V section, Wanamo worked on the VIII and IX portions, and Hamauzu arranged his own compositions from XIII with orchestration by Valtonen. First announced was a concert to be performed at the Barbican Centre in London by the London Symphony Orchestra on September 12, 2015, and later an earlier performance on August 29 in Bonn, Germany by the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn was also announced. After the debut performances, the London Symphony Orchestra traveled to Japan to perform the concert there three times: in Osaka on September 27, and twice in Yokohama on October 4. 2016 performances of the concert included a concert on April 1 at the Tampere Hall in Tampere, Finland by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, and a June 9 concert by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra at the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden.
Dreams of Zanarkand
A concert devoted solely to music from Final Fantasy X, titled Dreams of Zanarkand, was performed on October 8, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. The arrangements were made by composer Masashi Hamauzu and pianist Benyamin Nuss from the original tracks by Hamauzu and Uematsu. The concert was performed by the WDR Orchestra, with piano by Nuss, and featured narration of events from the game by comedian and game tester Maxi Gstettenbauer. Dreams of Zanarkand was the first European game music concert dedicated to a single game.
A series of concerts of music from Final Fantasy XIV began in 2017, titled Eorzean Symphony. The series began in September 2017 with a three-night set of concerts in Tokyo performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Hirofumi Kurita. It continued in June 2018 with another concert in Los Angeles and in then again in August in Dortmund, Germany. An album was released on December 20, 2017 containing music from the Tokyo concerts; a blu-ray release contains sixteen tracks as well as video from the concerts, while a CD release contains eight tracks. The album sold over 13,100 copies.
In addition to concerts specifically devoted to the Final Fantasy series, music from the games has been performed at many other concerts and concert series. Music from the series was played in the first four concerts of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra's Orchestral Game Music Concerts series from 1991 to 1994, and each concert has been released on an album. Outside Japan, Final Fantasy music was played for the first time at the Symphonic Game Music Concert series, a series of annual German video game music concerts starting in August 2003. It has also been played live by the Australian Eminence Symphony Orchestra since October 2003, an independent symphony orchestra specializing in classical music from video games and in the Video Games Live concert tour from 2005 to date as well as the Play! A Video Game Symphony world tour from 2006 onwards, for which Nobuo Uematsu composed the opening fanfare that accompanies each performance. The music made up one fourth of the Symphonic Fantasies concerts in September 2009 and in 2012 which were produced by the creators of the Symphonic Game Music Concert series and conducted by Arnie Roth; music from the Chrono series, the Kingdom Hearts series, and the Mana series made up the rest of the concert.
Arnold "Arnie" Roth is an American conductor, composer, and record producer. His work includes conducting concerts for video game music. He is also a classically trained violinist and a member of the Grammy Award-winning music group Mannheim Steamroller. Roth is also the principal conductor and music director of the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Play! A Video Game Symphony, and several Final Fantasy concerts. He won the Best Score Award at the 2003 DVD Premier Awards for his soundtrack to the film Barbie as Rapunzel and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007 for his original song "Shine" from Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. Roth graduated from Bienen School of Music, an undergraduate and graduate institution of Northwestern University in 1975. He has a son and a daughter who are both also involved in music; his son, Eric Roth (born 1977), is also a famed conductor.Benyamin Nuss
Benyamin Nuss (born June 20, 1989) is a German pianist and composer.Energy (Taiwanese band)
Energy was a Taiwanese boy band formed in 2002. The original band consisted of five members, Milk, Ady, Toro, Penny and Joe. Toro and Milk left the band in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Xiao Gang joined the band in mid-2007. The band disbanded in 2009.Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation console. Released in 1999, it is the eighth main installment in the Final Fantasy series. Set on an unnamed fantasy world with science fiction elements, the game follows a group of young mercenaries, led by Squall Leonhart, as they are drawn into a conflict sparked by Ultimecia, a sorceress from the future who wishes to compress time. During the quest to defeat Ultimecia, Squall struggles with his role as leader and develops a romance with one of his comrades, Rinoa Heartilly.
Development began in 1997, during the English localization of Final Fantasy VII. The game builds on the visual changes brought to the series by Final Fantasy VII, including the use of 3D graphics and pre-rendered backgrounds, while also departing from many Final Fantasy traditions. It is the first Final Fantasy to use realistically proportioned characters consistently, feature a vocal piece as its theme music, and forgo the use of magic points for spellcasting.
Final Fantasy VIII was mostly well received by critics, who praised its originality and visuals while criticizing some of its gameplay elements. It was voted the 22nd-best game of all time in 2006 by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu. The game was a commercial success; it earned more than US$50 million in sales during its first 13 weeks of release, making it the fastest-selling Final Fantasy title until Final Fantasy XIII, a multi-platform release. A Microsoft Windows port followed in 2000, with the addition of the Chocobo World minigame. Final Fantasy VIII was re-released worldwide as a PSOne Classic on the PlayStation Store in 2009, for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, with support for PlayStation Vita in 2012. It was re-released via Steam in 2013 and in Japan in 2014. As of December 2013, it has sold more than 8.5 million copies worldwide.Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy XI, also known as Final Fantasy XI Online, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), developed and published by Square (later Square Enix) as part of the Final Fantasy series. Designed and produced by Hiromichi Tanaka, it was released in Japan on May 16, 2002, for PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Windows-based personal computers in November of that year. The game was the first MMORPG to offer cross-platform play between PlayStation 2 and personal computer. It was also the Xbox 360's first MMORPG. All versions of the game require a monthly subscription to play.The story is set in the fantasy world of Vana'diel, where player-created avatars can both compete and cooperate in a variety of objectives to develop an assortment of jobs, skills, and earn in-game item rewards. Players can undertake an array of quests and progress through the in-game hierarchy and through the major plot of the game. Since its debut in 2002, five expansion packs have been released along with six add-on scenarios. Each expansion pack and add-on brings a new major storyline to the Final Fantasy XI world, along with numerous areas, quests, events and item rewards.
In 2015, Square Enix released the final main scenario for Final Fantasy XI titled Rhapsodies of Vana'diel. Final Fantasy XI became the final active server on the PlayStation 2 online service. The servers for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions were ultimately shut down on March 31, 2016. A mobile client for the game is under development by Square Enix in collaboration with Korean developer Nexon. A spinoff mobile game, Final Fantasy Grandmasters was released on September 30, 2015.Final Symphony
Final Symphony is a symphonic concert tour first held at the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal in Wuppertal (Germany) on May 11, 2013. To date, it has seen 22 performances worldwide. The concert tour features arrangements of video game music selected from the Final Fantasy series, specifically Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X. It is divided into three acts: a symphonic poem for VI, a piano concerto for X, and a symphony for VII. The concert is produced and directed by Thomas Böcker, with arrangements provided by Finnish composer and musician Jonne Valtonen, along with Roger Wanamo and Final Fantasy X composer Masashi Hamauzu with consultation from Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. The original works were composed by Uematsu and Hamauzu, and an introductory piece was composed by Valtonen. The premiere concert was performed by the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra under conduction from Eckehard Stier, with guest performer Benyamin Nuss joining the orchestra on piano.
Following the initial performance, Final Symphony was performed in several other venues. It was first performed in London (United Kingdom) at the Barbican Centre by the London Symphony Orchestra on May 30, 2013. Between 2014 and 2018, additional concerts took place in Tokyo (Japan), Aarhus (Denmark), Stockholm (Sweden), Tampere (Finland), Amsterdam (Netherlands), San Diego (United States), Baltimore (United States), San Francisco (United States), Auckland (New Zealand), Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China), Hamburg (Germany), Berlin (Germany), Munich (Germany), Vienna (Austria) and Melbourne (Australia), with each performance location handled by a different orchestra.
A video of the Stockholm performance of the Final Fantasy VI Symphonic Poem was released on October 11, 2014, and a full album recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios was released on February 23, 2015 by Merregnon Studios. The album, along with the concerts themselves, were heavily praised, both for the quality of the performance and for the quality of the arrangements, which overlaid themes from multiple pieces rather than relying on a more traditional medley. The concert series was followed by Final Symphony II, a similar concert tour by Merregnon Studios which began in 2015 with music from Final Fantasy V, VII, IX, and XIII.Final Symphony II
Final Symphony II is a symphonic concert tour first held at the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Germany on August 29, 2015 and performed through 2016. The concert tour features arrangements of video game music selected from the Final Fantasy series, specifically Final Fantasy V, VIII, IX, and XIII. It is divided into four acts, one per game, with the newest game, Final Fantasy XIII, first, and the oldest, V, last; all four arrangements are single-section arrangements, with the IX portion as a piano concerto. The tour is a follow up to Final Symphony, a similar tour of orchestral arrangement performances from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X beginning in 2013 and continuing to date. The concert is produced and directed by Thomas Böcker of Merregnon Studios, with arrangements provided by Finnish composer and musician Jonne Valtonen, along with Roger Wanamo and Final Fantasy XIII composer Masashi Hamauzu. The original works were composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Hamauzu, and an introductory piece was composed by Valtonen. The premiere concert was performed by the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn under conduction from Eckehard Stier, with guest performer Mischa Cheung joining the orchestra on piano.
Following the initial performance, Final Symphony II was performed in several other venues. It was first performed in London (United Kingdom) at the Barbican Centre by the London Symphony Orchestra on September 12, 2015. The London Symphony Orchestra then travelled to Japan to perform the concert in Osaka on September 27, and twice in Yokohama on October 4, the first time that a non-Japanese orchestra played a video game music concert in Japan. The 2016 performances of the concert were a concert on April 1 at the Tampere Hall in Tampere, Finland by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, and a June 9 concert by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. The Tampere concert featured an extra encore piano performance in addition to the two encores performed at all concerts. A 2019 performance by the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra is scheduled for July 6 at the Philharmonic Hall Essen in Essen, Germany.
A video of the Stockholm performance of the Final Fantasy VIII section was released on September 23, 2016, and unlike the original Final Symphony no album release has been announced to date. The concerts have been heavily praised, both for the quality of the performance and for the quality of the arrangements. Critics have claimed the concerts to be one of the highest quality video game music orchestral performances produced, along with the original Final Symphony, with the second tour considered to have simpler arrangement styles than the first but in turn be more approachable to audiences.Hitoshi Sakimoto
Hitoshi Sakimoto (崎元 仁, Sakimoto Hitoshi, born February 26, 1969) is a Japanese video game music composer and arranger. He is best known for scoring Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, though he has composed soundtracks for over 80 other games. He began playing music and video games in elementary school, and began composing video game music for money by the time he was 16. Sakimoto's professional career began a few years later in 1988 when he started composing music professionally as a freelancer, as well as programming sound drivers for games. Five years and 40 games later, he achieved his first mainstream success with the score to Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen. In 1997, he joined Square and composed for his first international success, the score to Final Fantasy Tactics.
In 2002, he resigned from Square to form his own music company, Basiscape, through which he continues to compose music for games, along with some anime series. Basiscape has expanded since its founding to 10 composers, and is currently the largest independent video game music production company. In addition to video game soundtracks, over the years Sakimoto has also worked on projects such as anime series and vocal albums. His music has been played at numerous music concerts by groups such as the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, and his work on Final Fantasy XII has been arranged for the piano and published as sheet music.Music of Final Fantasy VIII
The music of the video game Final Fantasy VIII was composed by regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu. The Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack, a compilation of all music in the game, was released on four Compact Discs by DigiCube in Japan, and by Square EA in North America. A special orchestral arrangement of selected tracks from the game—arranged by Shirō Hamaguchi—was released under the title Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec Final Fantasy VIII, and a collection of piano arrangements—performed by Shinko Ogata—was released under the title Piano Collections Final Fantasy VIII.
The game's soundtrack is best known for two tracks: "Liberi Fatali", a Latin choral piece that is played during the introduction to the game, and "Eyes on Me", a pop song serving as the game's theme, performed by Chinese singer Faye Wong. Reviewers were generally pleased with the music, although several cited issues while comparing the score to previous games or looking at individual tracks.Music of Final Fantasy X-2
The music of the video game Final Fantasy X-2 was composed by Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi. Regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu did not contribute any of the music, despite having composed the majority of the soundtrack for the first game, Final Fantasy X. The Final Fantasy X-2 Original Soundtrack was released on two Compact Discs in 2003 by Avex. After the release of Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission, an album entitled Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission Original Soundtrack composed of the songs added to the soundtrack for that game was released in 2003 by Avex. Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collection, a collection of piano arrangements of the original soundtracks by Noriko Matsueda, Takahito Eguchi, Hiroko Kokubu, Masahiro Sayama, and Febian Reza Pane, was released by Avex in 2004.
A single by Koda Kumi entitled real Emotion/1000 no Kotoba, based on the theme song for the game and the ending credits song, was published by Rhythm Zone prior to the game's release in 2003. Another single, titled Kuon: Memories of Waves and Light – Music from Final Fantasy X-2, was released by Avex in 2003 along with the original soundtrack. It consisted of live arrangements of several of the game's songs, composed and arranged by Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi. A set of three singles entitled Final Fantasy X-2 Vocal Collection- Paine, Rikku, and Yuna was published by Avex in 2003, with each single including vocal arrangements of songs from the game, sung by the respective character's voice actress.
The soundtrack received mixed reviews from critics; while several felt that the music was good and keeping in tone with the game, others found it to be odd and shallow. Several reviewers attributed the change to the lack of participation by Uematsu. Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission Original Soundtrack and Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collection, on the other hand, were very well received by critics, who felt that they were far superior to the original soundtrack. The singles for the soundtrack were poorly received by critics, who found a few of the songs to be enjoyable but all of the singles to be overpriced.Music of the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series
The Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles video game series consists of Crystal Chronicles, a spin-off of the main Final Fantasy series, its sequels My Life as a King and My Life as a Darklord, and their spin-offs, Ring of Fates, Echoes of Time and The Crystal Bearers. Crystal Chronicles, Ring of Fates, and Echoes of Time have had released soundtrack albums to date, and Crystal Chronicles and Ring of Fates each have an associated single. Kumi Tanioka is the main composer for the series, having composed the three released soundtracks as well as the music for My Life as a King and My Life as a Darklord. Hidenori Iwasaki is filling that role for The Crystal Bearers. Nobuo Uematsu, the main composer for the regular Final Fantasy series, contributed one track to the Ring of Fates soundtrack. Yae and Donna Burke sang the Japanese and English versions of the theme song for Crystal Chronicles, respectively, while Aiko sang the theme song for Ring of Fates.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Original Soundtrack was released by Pony Canyon in 2003, as was its single, "Kaze no Ne", and a promotional album Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles - A Musical Journey. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates Original Soundtrack and the double A-side "Hoshi no Nai Sekai"/"Yokogao" were released by Pony Canyon in 2007. The latest release is that of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time Original Soundtrack by Square Enix in 2009. All the albums and the singles received generally positive reviews, although the Crystal Chronicles album was the most universally appreciated of the three soundtracks. Unlike the soundtracks to the numbered Final Fantasy games, no compositions from the Crystal Chronicles soundtracks have appeared in any compilation albums produced by Square Enix or any official Final Fantasy concerts. "Morning Sky", the opening theme for Crystal Chronicles, was played in the first Games in Concert performance in Utrecht, Netherlands on November 26, 2006.Music of the Final Fantasy series
Final Fantasy is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and owned by Square Enix that includes video games, motion pictures, and other merchandise. The series began in 1987 as an eponymous role-playing video game developed by Square, spawning a video game series that became the central focus of the franchise. The music of the Final Fantasy series refers to the soundtracks of the Final Fantasy series of video games, as well as the surrounding medley of soundtrack, arranged, and compilation albums. The series' music ranges from very light background music to emotionally intense interweavings of character and situation leitmotifs.
The franchise includes a main series of numbered games as well as several spin-off series such as Crystal Chronicles and the Final Fantasy Tactics series. The primary composer of music for the main series was Nobuo Uematsu, who single-handedly composed the soundtracks for the first nine games, as well as directing the production of many of the albums. Music for the spin-off series and main series games beginning with Final Fantasy X was created by a variety of composers including Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Kumi Tanioka, and Yoko Shimomura.
The majority of Final Fantasy games, including all of the main series games, have received a soundtrack album release. Many have also inspired orchestral, vocal, or piano arrangement albums. In addition to the regular albums, a number of compilation albums of tracks from multiple games have been produced both by Square Enix and outside groups. Music from the original soundtracks of the games has been arranged as sheet music for the piano and published by DOREMI Music Publishing, while sheet music from the piano albums have been published by Yamaha Music Media. The franchise's music has been performed numerous times in concert tours and other live performances such as the Orchestral Game Music Concerts, Symphonic Game Music Concerts, and the Play! A Video Game Symphony and Video Games Live concert tours, as well as forming the basis of specific Final Fantasy concerts such as the Dear Friends and Distant Worlds concert tours.Nobuo Uematsu
Nobuo Uematsu (植松 伸夫, Uematsu Nobuo, born March 21, 1959) is a Japanese video game composer, best known for scoring most of the titles in the Final Fantasy series by Square Enix. He is considered to be one of the most well known composers in the video game industry. Sometimes referred to as the "Beethoven of video games music", he has appeared five times in the top 20 of the annual Classic FM Hall of Fame.
Uematsu, a self-taught musician, began playing the piano at the age of twelve, with English singer-songwriter Elton John as his biggest influence. Uematsu joined Square in 1986, where he first met Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The two later worked together on many titles at the company, most notably in the Final Fantasy series. After nearly two decades with Square, Uematsu left in 2004 to create his own production company, which included the Dog Ear Records music label. He has since composed music as a freelancer for other games, including ones developed by Square Enix and Sakaguchi's development studio, Mistwalker.
Many soundtracks and arranged albums of Uematsu's game scores have been released. Pieces from his video game works have been performed in various Final Fantasy concerts, where he has worked with Grammy Award–winning conductor Arnie Roth on several of these performances. From 2002 to 2010, he was in a hard rock band with Square Enix colleagues Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito called The Black Mages, in which he played electronic organ and other keyboards. The band played various arranged rock versions of Uematsu's Final Fantasy compositions. He has since performed with Earthbound Papas, which he formed as the successor to The Black Mages in 2011.Play! A Video Game Symphony
PLAY! A Video Game Symphony was a concert series that features music from video games performed by a live orchestra. The concerts from 2006 to 2010 were conducted by Arnie Roth. From 2010, Andy Brick took the position of principal conductor and music director. Play! was replaced by the Replay: Symphony of Heroes concert series.Shirō Hamaguchi
Shirō Hamaguchi (浜口 史郎, Hamaguchi Shirō, born November 19, 1969) is a Japanese anime composer, arranger and orchestrator. He is best known for composing music to the anime franchises Girls und Panzer, One Piece, and Oh My Goddess! and arranging/orchestrating music in the Final Fantasy series. He frequently collaborates with fellow composers Kohei Tanaka and Akifumi Tada on anime scores.Symphonic Fantasies
Symphonic Fantasies: Music from Square Enix was an award-winning symphonic tribute concert held in Cologne, Germany on September 12, 2009 at the Cologne Philharmonic Hall featuring video game music from Japanese game developer Square Enix. The concert featured symphonic movements based on the Kingdom Hearts series, Secret of Mana, the Chrono series, and the Final Fantasy series. The concert was produced and directed by Thomas Böcker, with arrangements provided by Finnish composer and musician Jonne Valtonen with assistance by Roger Wanamo. Due to overwhelming demand, a second concert was necessitated at the König-Pilsener-Arena in Oberhausen, on September 11, 2009. The concert was performed by the WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne and the WDR Radio Choir Cologne under conduction from Arnie Roth, with guest performers Rony Barrak and Benyamin Nuss joining the orchestra. Symphonic Fantasies was broadcast over radio on the WDR4 station and streamed live video online.
In 2012, four new performances were scheduled, taking stage in Tokyo, Stockholm, and a reprise in Cologne. These performances featured slightly modified versions of the original arrangements, and like the original concerts, were sold out. Another performance was held in London in October 2016 by the London Symphony Orchestra. The original concert and the Tokyo concert both sparked the release of an album. These albums, along with the concerts themselves, were heavily praised, both for the quality of the performance and for the quality of Valtonen's arrangements, which overlaid themes from multiple pieces rather than relying on a traditional medley.The Black Mages
The Black Mages were a Japanese instrumental rock band formed in 2002 by Nobuo Uematsu, Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito, who were three video game composers for Square Enix. The band arranged Uematsu's Final Fantasy video game series-based compositions in a hard rock style often similar to progressive metal, achieved with the additional use of synthesizers. Since its inception, the band had expanded to six members with the addition of Keiji Kawamori, Michio Okamiya and Arata Hanyuda. In August 2010, Uematsu announced the band had been disbanded, but he would continue to perform rock arrangements of his music as a part of another similar band, known as the Earthbound Papas.
The band released three studio albums. Their first was released eponymously as The Black Mages in 2003, and contained arrangements of Final Fantasy battle themes. The second album, The Black Mages II: The Skies Above, was released in 2004 and featured additional pieces besides battle themes including the group's first original song, "Blue Blast ~Winning the Rainbow", which was created for Japanese K-1 fighter Takehiro Murahama. The third album, The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight, was released in 2008. Music from the group has also appeared in other albums, including one track in Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange, an album of arranged music from the video game Dark Chronicle, a piece in the animated film Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and its corresponding soundtrack album, and one track on Final Fantasy III Original Soundtrack, the soundtrack album for the Nintendo DS version of Final Fantasy III.
The Black Mages did not tour as a band, but performed several concerts to promote their album releases. For their first album they performed in Shibuya and Kanagawa, Japan in 2003 and later released a live video of the first concert on DVD exclusively to Uematsu fanclub members. They repeated this for the release of their second album, performing in Kawasaki and Osaka, Japan in 2005 and similarly released on DVD to fanclub members. The third album saw a performance in Yokohama, Japan in 2008; a DVD of the show was released commercially in March 2009. In addition to these concerts, The Black Mages made live appearances at two Final Fantasy concerts, More Friends: Music from Final Fantasy and Voices - Music from Final Fantasy, as well as another video game music event, Extra: Hyper Game Music Event 2007.