Koji Kondo

In his myriad compositions for Nintendo video games, Koji Kondo created some of the medium’s most memorable music. Born in Nagoya in 1961, Kondo began studying the organ at age five. Prior to studying at the Osaka University of the Arts, Kondo played in a jazz-rock cover band, which allowed him to practice and increase his ability. Despite not being particularly interested in composing music, in 1984, during his senior year at the university, the Nintendo company sent out a recruitment letter searching for composers and sound programmers. At university, Kondo had worked with computers and acoustic instruments to make music and, driven by his appreciation for video games, successfully applied for the position. He became the third person to be hired by Nintendo’s music department, and the first to focus on composition. Prior to his hiring, Kondo had composed music for the arcade game Punch Out!!, and at Nintendo was assigned to composing music for the company’s popular Famicom (NES) game system. The choice by Nintendo in 1985 to market Famicom globally led to Kondo’s compositions for Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, in 1985 and 1986 respectively, becoming some of the best-known pieces of video game music. Throughout his career, Kondo composed music for standalone games but is best known for his work on the Mario, Zelda, and Starfox series and their related games. In 1991 his music was featured in the first Orchestral Video Game Music concert, organized and arranged by Koichi Sugiyama. In 1998, Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time was the last project Kondo worked on alone and he has subsequently collaborated with a team of composers. Kondo received his first award nomination in 2011 when his score for Super Mario Galaxy 2 was nominated for Best Original Music at the British Academy Games Awards.