Japanese Musical Modanizumu: Interwar Yōgaku Composers and Modernism
Etheridge, Kathryn (author)
Van Glahn, Denise (professor directing dissertation)
Weingarden, Lauren S. (university representative)
Seaton, Douglass (committee member)
Brewer, Charles E. (committee member)
Yu, Jimmy (committee member)
College of Music (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
Although "modernism" has been understood by many scholars worldwide first and foremost as a Euro-American, multi-faceted aesthetic movement, modanizumu ("modernism") has also been conceptualized by Japanese and Western scholars alike as a historical and artistic epoch in Japan. In previous scholarship on Japanese yougaku (art music in a Western style), modernism is almost always identified as a post-1945 phenomenon. Post-war Japanese musical modernism, however, has a prehistory written by Japanese artists and intellectuals in the early twentieth century, especially between 1905 and 1937 (the end of the Russo-Japanese War and the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War). The products of these "interwar" modernists have often been dismissed by post-war scholars as the vacant copying of contemporary Western styles, most especially in music. But Japanese artists in music and other creative fields reacted to modernity in a variety of noteworthy ways, while consciously positioning themselves within an international modernist culture. This dissertation demonstrates that while Japanese artists drew heavily upon Western styles they were also responding to and writing about internationalism, fragmentation of established arts organizations and their respective ideologies, substantial breaks from tradition, and the theorizing and practical development of innovative methodologies in their search for the artistic "new" at roughly the same time that Western artists grappled with parallel issues. In many cases the Japanese responded quite differently to these issues from their European and American counterparts. Ultimately I argue that interwar yougaku is another fruitful avenue for the study of Japanese modernism, alongside the expanding body of scholarship on Japanese modernism within other fields. The primary focus of my project is on yougaku written by Japanese composers during the Japanese interwar era. I examine how several composers saw themselves and their music in relation to the broader context of Japanese modernism by examining their music, writings, and biographies. The music of these composers encompasses a variety of styles and mediums; it also reflects a hybridity that incorporated local traditions, so that the result was not mere imitation but hybrid creations that captured each individual composer's responses to specific conditions of his or her time and place. By bringing music to the forefront, I contribute to interdisciplinary discourse on Japanese modernism, a topic that has received increased attention over the past twenty-five years. I also address a lacuna in Japanese modernist studies: yougaku has received startlingly little attention in English-language scholarship on Japanese modernism. This lacuna is even more glaring because many scholars have discussed the influence that Japanese art and music have had upon Western modernism, but they have not considered the reciprocity of this process. While music reflects many of the same modernist values as other Japanese contemporary arts, it also presents differences that complicate current views of Japanese modernism. Many interwar Japanese groups and individuals claimed analogous Western movements as their major influences; as a result, it has been tempting to view Japanese creations as "Japanese versions" of these Western movements. However, the artists within these movements desired to change fundamentally the direction of their nation's creative activities, not in a Western direction but in a new Japanese one. The first two chapters of the dissertation provide broad historical and cultural context for my case studies of interwar composers. The Introduction considers multiple conceptions of "modernism" through close examination of key sources relating to interwar music and modernist aesthetics in various contexts. As this chapter demonstrates, interwar Japanese yougaku has not received the same attention as the literary and visual arts have in regards to Japanese modernism, especially in English language sources. Chapter Two reviews the history of Japan between 1868 and the late 1930s as it relates to music. Each of my three case studies (Chapters Three, Four, and Five) focuses on one composer whose aesthetic stance and/or practical application of modernist thought reflected broader trends of the interwar era. Yamada Kousaku (1886-1965) served as an unofficial arts and music ambassador; he also represents an early generation of graduates from the Tokyo Music School and the shared practices of those graduates studying abroad in Germany. Unlike Yamada, Sugahara Meirou (1897-1988) was largely self-taught, and he did not travel to Europe until after the end of World War II. He championed modern French music, and his own works exhibit a Japanese neoclassical style. As a female composer, Yoshida Takako (1910-56) offers a completely different perspective on interwar yougaku. Through her roles a progressive composer and as a social activist, Yoshida emulated the Japanese "Modern Girl," an archetype closely associated with Japanese interwar modernism.
Interwar, Japan, Modanizumu, Modernism, Music History, Yougaku
April 29, 2014.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Denise Von Glahn, Professor Directing Dissertation; Lauren S. Weingarden, University Representative; Douglass Seaton, Committee Member; Charles E. Brewer, Committee Member; Jimmy Yu, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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