Nobuo Uematsu is a Japanese composer, primarily producing popular video game sound tracks. Born in Kochi, Kochi Prefecture, Japan, on 21 March 1959, Uematsu has been quite renowned in the world of video games, mostly recognized for his consistent efforts to revamp and internationalize the Final Fantasy series. While mostly focusing his abilities on producing top-notch scores for video games, Uematsu has also been part of several bands, playing keyboards and the organ in addition to his favorite instrument, the piano. What perhaps sets him apart for other contemporary musicians is the fact that Uematsu is self-taught in piano, deriving most of his interest from the American performing maestro, Elton John.
Uematsu received his undergraduate degree in English from Kanagawa University, before joining a bunch of underground bands and playing music in his early years. His partnership with the renowned Japanese video game company Square Co. officially began once an employee noticed Uematsu perform at a local pub. Instantly recognizing his talents, Square offered him to help out on some of the tracks they were working on. This led him to meet the accomplished Japanese video game director Hironobu Sakaguchi, whom Uematsu aided in his grand project for the Final Fantasy series. Beginning in 1987, Sakaguchi and Uematsu released the first edition of the series, instantly making the latter popular in the video games universe. After the success of Final Fantasy, Uematsu went on to compose for multiple video games most notably the sequels to the Final Fantasy video game. In 1989, he collaborated again with Sakaguchi on The Final Fantasy Legend, furthering the game’s cause and inviting more fame for Uematsu with other video game directors. In 1994, he arranged for a catchy sound track for a video game titled Chrono Trigger. Uematsu’s interest and passion for composition grew after this venture, such that two years later, Uematsu was assigned the indelible task to fully compose for Front Mission: Gun Hazard, and the popular Hanjuku Hero series.
After the year 2000, and Uematsu’s half-hearted attempt at the sound track for the animated film, Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, he requested other Japanese composers to help him with the creativity block. By 2004, however, Uematsu had made up his mind to form his own company, called Smile Please. At the same time, he had also joined a rock band The Black Mages, together with whom he produced the score for the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. However, he was placed considerably on the sideline for the sound track for Final Fantasy XII (2006), as he only composed the main theme in this project. Uematsu’s fervor seems to have not diminished over the years, as he continually upgraded his work’s vision and the overall meaning behind his music. In the latter half of the 2000s, he continued to contribute to other video games such as Blue Dragon (2006), Lost Odyssey (2007), Away: Shuffle Dungeon (2008) and The Last Story (2011). Together with his solo contributions to music, Uematsu has taken part in several humanitarian concerts over the years, most popularly the 2003 Symphonic Game Music Concert in 2003 and the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concert in 2012.
Nobuo Uematsu’s music has featured a diverse range of genres, sometimes incorporating various elements of classical symphonies, with heavy metal and New Age. Due to the numerous contributions he has under his name, Uematsu is internationally recognized as a prominent video game composer to this day.