Hear the Playlist Ryuichi Sakamoto Made for His Own Funeral

Sakamoto’s Send Off

“He truly was with music until the very end,” said the late musician’s management team, which shared the playlist

Over the weekend, the management team of Ryuichi Sakamoto shared a final parting gift from the towering musician, who died in March — a playlist he compiled for his funeral.

The 33-song set runs for about two-and-a-half hours and primarily features compositions by prominent Western composers like Erik Satie, Bach, Ravel, and Debussy. Additionally, there’s a piece from famed Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu, and the playlist opens with a work from Sakamoto collaborator Alva Noto. Sakamoto also included music by the Bill Evans Trio, Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, David Sylvain, and Laurel Halo. 

In announcing the playlist, Sakamoto’s management team wrote, “We would like to share the playlist that Ryuichi had been privately compiling to be played at his own funeral to accompany his passing. He truly was with music until the very end.”

Sakamoto died on March 28 (though his death was announced a few days later). While no cause of death was provided, Sakamoto had been diagnosed with two forms of cancer over the past decade and said in 2021 that he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer. 


Upon his death, Sakamoto’s label, Commons, released a statement noting that, despite his health issues, Sakamoto stayed busy with music whenever he could: “While undergoing treatment for cancer discovered in June 2020, Sakamoto continued to create works in his home studio whenever his health would allow. He lived with music until the very end.”

Sakamoto enjoyed a wide-ranging, multi-faceted career, rising to prominence as a member of the pioneering electro supergroup Yellow Magic Orchestra. Sakamoto’s solo work was as groundbreaking as his film composition work. Alongside David Byrne and Cong Su, he won an Oscar for the score for Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 historical epic, The Last Emperor.