This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: onalistic songs of missionary-influenced countries in twentieth-century Africa.29
It was in the public schools, however, that the most important measures were taken to advance knowledge and appreciation of Western
music among the Japanese, and the pioneer figure in implementing these
measures was Izawa Shûji (1851–1917). After a period of study in the
United States, Izawa was engaged by the Ministry of Education in 1879
to prepare songbooks and to plan for the teaching of music in the public
school system. Izawa’s principal aim was to find some way of blending
traditional and Western music in order to produce a new kind of national
music for modern Japan. To accomplish this, he worked chiefly with an
American, Luther Mason of Boston, and with members of the gagaku
school of ancient court musicians. The choice of gagaku musicians as
the Japanese spets in the composition of “blended” music is particularly interesting, since it meant that Izawa and his associates chose to
bypass the more recent and vital forms of “vulgar” music that had evolved
in the Tokugawa period and to draw instead upon the rigidly conventionalized, albeit “elegant,” musical tradition of at least a millennium earlier in Japanese history.
One notable product of the mixing of music in early Meiji (although
not by Izawa) was the Japanese anthem, “Kimi ga Yo” (“His Majesty’s
Reign”), composed in response to the desire to have a national song like
the Western countries. The words for “Kimi ga Yo,” taken apparently
from the tenth-century poetic anthology Kokinshû, were first put to
Western music by an English bandsman in the 1870s but were later
adapted to a melody by a gagaku musician that was in turn harmonized
and arranged for orchestra by a German, Franz Eckert.
However we may judge the efforts of Izawa to synthesize traditional
and Western music, the most important result of musical training in
public schools from his time on was to accustom successive generations
of Japanese students to Western harmonies a...
View Full Document
- Spring '13