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JAPANESE ORGAN AND HARPSICHORD MUSIC. Calvert Johnson RCCO, Victoria BC, July 2010. Organs and Western music in Japan. Organs introduced by Catholic missionaries, 1579 Missionaries expelled, Christians persecuted, 1633 Commodore Perry forces Japan to open up, 1853

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japanese organ and harpsichord music


Calvert Johnson

RCCO, Victoria BC, July 2010

organs and western music in japan
Organs and Western music in Japan
  • Organs introduced by Catholic missionaries, 1579
  • Missionaries expelled, Christians persecuted, 1633
  • Commodore Perry forces Japan to open up, 1853
    • Western music adopted in schools, & for military bands
  • New organs installed, from 1858
  • World War II destroys about half of organs in Japan
  • Since 1950, hundreds of organs imported from Europe and North America
  • Japanese organ builders trained abroad now active
  • By 1930 Japanese composers are up-to-date on developments in Western music
organs in japan today
Organs in Japan Today
  • About 1% of Japanese are Christian
  • Organs are found in churches (mainly Catholic)
  • Most organs are located in major concert halls, at least one in the arts complex of each prefecture
  • Hence, organs are heard mainly in a secular concert environment rather than at religious services
musical styles themes
Musical Styles & Themes
  • Traditional Japanese Music
  • Christian Music
  • Western “abstract” instrumental music
  • Fusion of Japanese and Western musics
japanese musical characteristics
Japanese musical characteristics
  • Rhythm: based on breathing
    • Free and flexible, hence more expressive
    • Silence is part of the music
  • Tempo: slow to very fast
    • accelerandos for excitement
  • Melody: mostly based on pentatonic scales
  • Form: melodies are motivically constructed, with repetition, ornamentation
    • Jo-ha-kyu: slow introduction (jo), building of tempo (ha), and rushing that slows before the end (kyu)
asaoka makiko b 1956
ASAOKA Makiko (b. 1956)
  • Studied composition, Tokyo National University of Arts
  • Four Pieces for Harpsichord (1994)
    • Prelude: evocationof ancient Japan
      • Koto music; sequence and inversion of motives
    • Les Tourbillons: Classic French clavecinistes
      • Bitonality (A and Ab)
    • Caprice: Classic French clavecinistes
      • Two main ideas:
        • wide ranging melody with P5 and P8
        • Short, capricious motives, whether chordal or melodic
    • Rio: evocations of Brazilian-Japanese music
isaac nagao b 1938
Isaac NAGAO (b. 1938)
  • Doctorate, Columbia Pacific University
  • Professor emeritus, Naruto University of Education
  • Organist, Tokushima Baptist Church
  • Ancient Cities (1986): evokes ancient Kyoto, Nara
  • Nearer My God to Thee (1988): expresses text
    • Based on triple meter version of hymn
  • Hosanna! (1987): on Jesus’ last days
    • Palm Sunday triumphal entry
    • Peter’s denial (note the cock-crow)
    • Use of BACH fugal theme
    • Irony of audience/congregation shouting “Hosanna” through depiction of Jesus’ march to Calvary (with pedal ostinato)
shinji inagi b 1978
Shinji INAGI (b. 1978)
  • DMA student (organ & composition), U of Arizona
  • Wind of Ryukyu (2008)
    • Evocation of traditional Ryukyu culture (non-Japanese)
    • Based on Okinawan pentatonic scale CEFGB
    • Features Flute and Celeste stops
toru takemitsu 1930 1996
Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996)
  • Self-taught composer, influenced by Messiaen, Cage
    • Modal melodies
    • Free meters
    • Chromatic inflections and accompaniments
    • Conscious use of timbre and register
  • First internationally acclaimed Japanese composer
  • Rain Dreaming (1986)
    • Features rising P4
    • Water is a recurring theme in Takemitsu’s works
karen tanaka b 1961
Karen TANAKA (b. 1961)
  • Study at Toho Gakuen School of Music,
  • later with Tristan Murail, IRCAM, Berio,
  • Professor of Music, U-C, Santa Barbara
  • Organist, St. Michael’s Episcopal, Santa Barbara
  • Jardin des Herbes (1989)
    • portrays aromatic qualities of 3 herbs:
    • Rosemary
    • Sweet Violet
    • Lavender
asako hirabayashi b 1960
Asako HIRABAYASHI (b. 1960)
  • MM, composition, Aichi Art University
  • DMA, harpsichord, Juilliard
  • Frequent prize winner in composition, harpsichord
  • Sonatina No. 1 (2001, rev. 2002)
    • Inspired by Busoni’s Sonatina for Harpsichord
    • Simple, quiet motive pervades the work
    • Neither homophonic nor polyphonic throughout
    • More or less polytonal
    • Very idiomatic to the harpsichord
jiro censu b 1934
Jiro CENSU (b. 1934)
  • Master’s, Kyoto University
  • Revelation in a Cradlesong (1987, rev. 1988)
    • Improvisatory introduction: quartal harmonies
    • Pentatonic Lullaby theme in 6/4 (then played as P5s)
    • Development of quartal harmonies and theme
    • Fugue on variant of lullaby theme (in 4/4)
      • After stretto, combined with lullaby theme
    • Improvisatory cadenza and quartal harmonies
    • Lullaby theme with imitation in accompaniment
    • Overall: Quiet & slow, building to fast and busy, then gradual return to quiet & slow
takashi matsuoka b 1950
Takashi MATSUOKA (b. 1950)
  • Master’s, Tokyo National University of Arts
  • Further study in Dusseldorf on DAAD
  • Professor, Naruto University of Education
  • Fuga in C# Minor (1980s)
    • School Fugue, theme begins tonic-dominant, descent
    • Exposition (“real” answer begins dominant-tonic,& 6#)
    • Counter-exposition: subject is inverted
    • Development includes stretto and cancrizans
    • Final bass statement for pedals
reiko arima b 1933
Reiko ARIMA (b. 1933)
  • BA, Composition, Tokyo National University of Arts
  • Professor, Tokyo College of Music (1961-2004)
  • Dean of Composition Teachers in Japan
  • ‘Miyabi’ Ballad for Pipe Organ (1987)
    • Rondo-like form
    • Programmatic: about her 16th century ancestor who travelled to Europe as an early Christian
    • Impressions of gagaku
    • Opens with angular, chromatic theme answered by “heavenly voice” on flute
    • Fugue in center, interrupted by rising/falling open P5-P8
kiyo watanabe b 1966
Kiyo WATANABE (b. 1966)
  • BM, Baylor University, with Joyce Jones
  • MM, DMA, Manhattan School of Music, with McNeil Robinson
  • Music Director, First United Methodist, Wichita Falls
  • Composed many organ works based on hymns
  • Toccata on ‘Blessed Assurance’
    • Derived from French perpetual motion toccata style
    • Theme in pedals, rhythmically adjusted
    • Exuberant, jubilant, audience-pleasing postlude or encore