Western music spread in Japan already at the beginning of the 20th century, mainly through the influence of the German and French schools. Of dominant importance throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and again – albeit in different forms – in the early postwar years, the so-called “ German school ” had its first representatives in a group of composers who had completed their studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. Among the first we should remember K. Yamada (1886-1965), who was in Berlin between 1909 and 1913, and the younger S. Moroi (b. 1903), who studied in Germany between 1932 and 1934. Both these authors were particularly careful to introduce the symphonic form into their works, and above all Yamada who favored its diffusion in his country also through his activity as conductor. Not before the 1920s, on the other hand, did Japan have French-trained composers, such as K. Komatsu (in Paris between 1919 and 1922) and T. Onuma (who studied in France between 1925 and 1927), both pupils of d’Indy at the Parisian Schola Cantorum. However, the real initiator of the ” French school ” was T. Ikenouchi (b. 1908), the first Japanese composer to enroll at the Paris Conservatory (1927-33). His pupils were A. Yashiro, M. Moroi and A. Miyoshi. Indy at the Parisian Schola Cantorum. However, the real initiator of the ” French school ” was T. Ikenouchi (b. 1908), the first Japanese composer to enroll at the Paris Conservatory (1927-33). His pupils were A. Yashiro, M. Moroi and A. Miyoshi. Indy at the Parisian Schola Cantorum. However, the real initiator of the ” French school ” was T. Ikenouchi (b. 1908), the first Japanese composer to enroll at the Paris Conservatory (1927-33). His pupils were A. Yashiro, M. Moroi and A. Miyoshi.
According to sourcemakeup, these first contacts with Western music provoked as a response the contemporary rise of a ” national school ”, which aimed at achieving a first synthesis between the principles of Western harmony and the characters of Japanese melody, trying in this sense to identify a renewed form of national style.
To this address, raised around the Thirties by the Russian composer A. Čerepnin, two of his pupils, Y. Kiyose (b. 1900) and A. Ifikube (b. not a few of the main representatives of contemporary Japanese music are trained.
After World War II, a greater awareness of the effective diversity between the Asian and Western musical tradition led some young composers to a generally critical attitude towards conciliatory forms that had proved to be largely artificial, thus laying the foundations for a more aware and fruitful with European music.
The so-called ” second national school ” paid particular attention to the new possibilities that the instruments of the Japanese musical tradition offered in combination with Western-inspired compositional procedures. Already Y. Matsudaira (b. 1907) found himself experimenting with the use of the dodecaphonic technique in the traditional Gagaku style . In 1947 he founded, together with Kiyose, the Shin Sakkyokuha Kyo-kai group. But it was above all M. Mamiya (b. 1929) who experimented in his compositions the combination of traditional and European instruments, substituting the canons of Western harmony for the traditional pentatonic melody. Y. Irino (b.1921), founder already in 1946 of an avant-garde group, the Shinsei Kai, dedicated himself to the use of the dodecaphonic technique, particularly widespread in the mid-1950s, together with M. Shibata and K. Toda.
More closely linked to the influences of the European avant-gardes of the second post-war period, however, was a group of composers – moreover on aesthetic positions not immediately assimilable – which began to assert itself from the early 1960s.
Among these we must remember first of all M. Moroi (b. 1930), the first Japanese composer to deal constantly with electronic music, working at the Japanese Radio studio (for which he composed several works) since 1956, the following day of a study trip to Germany. To electronic music he also devoted himself, but to a lesser extent, T. Mayuzumi (b. 1929), founder in 1953 of the avant – garde group San-ni no kai (“Group of Three”), with I. Dan and Y. Akutagawa, together with whom he tried to relocate the musical tradition of his country in the most typical context of Asian culture.
The work of T. Takemitsu (b.1930), a pupil of Kiyose, the first to introduce concrete music in Japan also works at the electronic music studio, in a somewhat antithetical position to that of Moroi. of Japanese Radio. S. Matsushita (b. 1923) and A. Miyoshi (b. 1933) also worked on electronic music.
With Moroi and Takemitsu, Japanese music has now established itself internationally, contributing with its own contributions to the research of the Western avant-gardes. Of the younger generation, always attentive to the enhancement of their traditions, even in the context of a widespread Westernization, we can finally remember T. Noda (b. 1940) and S. Ikebe (b. 1943).