Musicology in Post-War Japan: German Influence and Social Context

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Booth 57
Oral Presentation
Naomi MIYAMOTO , Faculty of Letters, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
Japan is famous for consuming Western classical music. Since the Meiji era, Japan has eagerly imported Western music and produced many musicians, orchestras, and concert halls. Today, the classical market is large, but it is much smaller than the market for popular music. Nevertheless, extensive studies of classical music have been conducted in Japan.
    This research will explore Japanese musicology in the late twentieth century through a case study of the department of musicology at the Tokyo University of the Arts, which has the longest tradition of musicology in Japan.
    Japanese musical research was strongly influenced by German musicology, especially after the war. The primary interest has been in examining scores and historical documents related to the great German composers, such as J.S. Bach and Beethoven, and analysing their compositions, as opposed to cultural studies or ethnomusicology. One of the most influential German musicologists was Carl Dahlhaus. His book The Idea of Absolute Music was widely read in the Japanese music world. This highlights the preference among Japanese researchers for instrumental music. From another point of view, however, we have to understand Dahlhaus’s social and ideological background in post-Nazi Germany. As some researchers in the English-speaking world point out, Germany after the war needed to distinguish the ‘great German music’ from the country’s guilt and emphasise the autonomy and purity of music.
    This study clarifies how this situation in Germany influenced Japanese research on music and music aesthetics. Further, it analyses the Japanese social context for the reception of Western classical music.