150 Years of Modern Japanese Music



IV. From the postwar period to the twenty-first century

Following World War II, music in Japan progressed in step with postwar Western music. Young composers who had been in or approaching their teens or in their twenties when the war came to an end were sceptical of traditional Western music. Instead, they sought out avantgarde Western musicians like Arnold Schoenberg, Oliver Messiaen, and John Cage. Research and experiments conducted by Jikken Kobo—founded by Takemitsu Toru and others in 1951—and by the Institute for Twentieth Century Music—founded by Shibata Minao and others in 1957—enabled the composers to develop their own musical languages and seemed to provide an opportunity for liberating Japanese music, giving it equal status with other forms of music around the world.
Examining the history of music from the postwar years to the present day demonstrates that in terms of both composition and performance, Japanese music has successfully attained an important position in musical activity worldwide. This section follows that path from postwar devastation to the music of today, exploring the distinctive and creative music produced by Japan’s composers as they took their place on the international stage.

  1. 1. Documents: The path to the Treaty of San Francisco
  2. 2. Jikken Kobo: Takiguchi Shuzo and young artists
  3. 3. Ars Nova and electronic music
  4. 4. Institute for Twentieth Century Music: Festival of Contemporary Music
  5. 5. John Cage and Oliver Messiaen
  6. 6. The music of Expo 70
  7. 7. Takemitsu Toru’s musi
  8. 8. The flag bearers of postwar music
  9. 9. Tradition and music/Music east and west
  10. 10. Opera: Postwar and present-day
  11. 11. Orchestras today

Toda Kunio’s Score for the Study of Twelve-tone Technique c. 1948
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

Programme of La Bohèm, 1st concert of Nikikai 1952
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

Orchestral Space (LP) jacket 1966
TOYAMA Kazuyuki Memorial Archives of Modern Japanese Music

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