Composer Koichi Sugiyama, best known for his work on the Dragon Quest series, has died at age 90. Sugiyama passed away on September 30, 2021, after going into a septic shock. His family and friends held a private funeral.
Koichi Sugiyama’s work with Square Enix goes back to 1985 when he composed his first video game music for World Golf by then Enix. Before that, he was already a well-established composer, having worked on various TV programs through the 80s and 90s. His early works include compositions for big TV shows, including Return of Ultraman and hit anime such as Cyborg 009. Enix hired Sugiyama after receiving a fan letter from the composer, which was a big surprise for the company at the time. He worked on the first Dragon Quest game in the following year in 1986, and since then, he has stuck with the series for 35 years. Sugiyama’s works include over 500 tracks for the Dragon Quest series alone and hundreds more for other games, films, and TV shows before that. The music for Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate will be his final work.
Sugiyama was a classically-trained musician influenced by the likes of Mozart and Bach. He was a pioneer in video game music as one of the first composers to record with a live orchestra. He was not only an influence to legendary composers like Nobuo Uematsu but many video game music composers around the world over the past three decades.
Statement from the Dragon Quest team
We deeply regret to announce the passing of Koichi Sugiyama, on September 30th, 2021, at the age of 90. For over 35 years, Koichi Sugiyama worked on the music for DRAGON QUEST and contributed to the development of the series, which involved single-handedly composing more than 500 tracks. His music will forever hold a place in our memories. We would like to express our immense appreciation for his lifetime’s work, and offer our sincerest condolences to his friends and loved ones.
Square Enix will hold a memorial gathering for Sugiyama in the near future.