150 Years of Modern Japanese Music



II. Taisho Modernism and music

It is no exaggeration to say that twentieth century Japanese music commenced with Yamada Kosaku.
Kosaku experimented in composing art songs, and advocated art songs for children through efforts including his children’s literary magazine Akai Tori. He was also involved in the growth and popularisation of the Shin Nihon Ongaku (New Japanese Music) movement and operettas (short comic operas) such as those promoted by the Asakusa Opera. Such music won the hearts of a broad range of young people, expanding its scope from educational music to arts and entertainment.
The outbreak of World War I and the subsequent Russian Revolution had an impact on Japan’s music world during the Taisho Period (1912–26). Japanese students who cut short their studies in Europe to return home as war approached created a new music scene in Japan. Many top musicians and performers from overseas also came to the Far East in the aftermath of the war when Europe was still chaotic, bringing authentic musical performances to the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo. The young Sergei Prokofiev also performed some of his own compositions in Tokyo on his way to Tokyo. This section is full of the youthful energy of Taisho Period music.

  1. 1. Yamada Kosaku studies abroad and returns to Japan
  2. 2. Yamada Kosaku of Verse and Music
  3. 3. Children’s song movement and composers
  4. 4. Miyagi Michio and Shin Nihon Ongaku
  5. 5. Opera! Opera!: Imperial Theatre and Asakura Opera
  6. 6. Senoo Gakufu
  7. 7. Hagiwara Sakutaro and mandolin music
  8. 8. Miyazawa Kenji and music
  9. 9. The birth of music criticism: Otaguro Motoo and Ongaku to Bungaku
  10. 10. Tokugawa Yorisada and the Nanki Gakudo
  11. 11. First performances of the two Ninths

NAKAYAMA Shinpei’s Gondola no Uta 1916(6th edition 1918)
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

Claude Debussy’s Les Cloches 1917
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

Nihon Kokyogaku Kyokai Subscription Concert Membership Poster 1926
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

Yamada Kosaku Doyo Hyakkyokushu, vol. 1 / 2 1927
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

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