by Robert Coldwell (1997)
Morishige Takei was born on October 11, 1890 in Tottori City (located on the coast of the Sea of Japan between Hiroshima and Kyoto) while his family was living there for a short time. His father was the Tottori prefectural governor, but the year after Takei was born the family moved to Tokyo. In 1910 he entered the Tokyo Foreign Language School and majored in Italian. After receiving a scholarship from the Italian Society he traveled to Italy in May of 1911. It was apparently during his time in Italy that Takei first encountered the guitar. He returned to Tokyo in October, 1911 and graduated from the school in March of 1913 at the top of his class and received a prize from the Italian government. It was at this time that he first began learning the guitar. Upon graduation he was given the title of director for his fathers companies.
On September 26, 1915 he started a mandolin ensemble with Tsunehiko Tanaka and took the guitar part. The mandolin ensemble was formally named Sinfonica Mandolini Orchestra on May 4, 1916 and the monthly publication of the Mandolin and Guitar journal was commenced. Mandolin and Guitar was the first publication in Japan to be devoted to these instruments. The first issue was a very modest undertaking consisting of only 9 pages of B5 size paper. The first recital of the newly formed orchestra was on June 4 of the same year. The first three recitals were held at Takeis home in a rehearsal hall he had built on his property in Tokyo. Performances varied widely and included guitar solos, duos, trios, banjo solos, mandolin solos, mandolin or guitar works with piano accompaniment (played by Takeis wife Hanako) and works for mandolin orchestra.
On December 28, 1917 Takei entered the service of the Department of the Imperial Household as an Officer of Ceremonies.
In 1919 he began composing for the guitar with the first two works being: Ricordi dInfanzia (E Major tuning) written in July; Passegiata Campestre (open D tuning) written in August. These early compositions were about the only ones that used an alternate tuning, but Takei often wrote for a guitar with the 6th string tuned down to D. Takei also wrote many compositions with steel strings in mind. One of the reasons for this is that, even though gut strings were available, the humidity in Japan made them difficult to keep in tune. Also many instruments imported from Italy and America at that time were strung with steel strings. Takei himself used gut strings early in his studies, but probably one of the reasons he switched to steel strings in the 1920s was the necessity of making the guitar heard in a mandolin orchestra. In an article in The Study of the Mandolin and Guitar in April of 1936 he admitted that the use of steel strings probably had hindered the development of the guitar in Japan.
*Takei wrote a total of 114 works for guitar, mandolin, and ensembles of these instruments. 57 works were for solo guitar and his last work, Op.114, was written in the latter half of 1949.
Also in 1919 Takei purchased three guitars from Philip Bone in England. He first bought an 1858 Lacôte (now owned by his daughter Naoko Adachi) and a de Lazée [spelling?] previously owned by Carulli and then later by Carullis pupil Squire Benzol [spelling?]. Later he acquired a terz-guitar by Stauffer. As can be seen in the photo of the first recital of the Sinfonica Mandolini Orchestra, Takei is holding a 10-string guitar. (I have found no information regarding this guitar.) Along with these instruments he acquired about 50 pieces of music including:
- Paganini 6 Sonate Op.3 (Violin and Guitar)
- Hummel Grande Serenade Op.63 (Piano, Violin, Guitar, Clarinet, Bassoon)
- Giuliani Six Variations Op.81 (Violin (or Flute) and Guitar)
- Weber Divertimento assai facile Op.38 (Piano and Guitar)
Takei held a joint solo guitar concert with two other members from the Sinfonica Mandolini Orchestra in March, 1921 titled La Serenata Musicale per Chitarra. He played Tarregas Capricho Arabe, Vreelands Gondoliera, and Olcott-Bickfords Janet. Apparently, half way through the Capricho he missed a note and after checking the instrument began again from the beginning. However, after missing a second time he played a more familiar work instead. The two other guitarists did not fare quite as badly, but their performances could not be said to be anywhere near inspirational or immaculate. Other perfomers had more successful concerts, but this example is indicative of the difficulties faced by those at the forefront of the Japanese guitar at that time.
In December, 1921 he was given the additional responsibilities of the Chief of the Music Section of the Department of the Imperial Household.
According to numerous sources Takei bought the larger half of the Bone collection in 1922. In the March, 1923 issue of Mandolin and Guitar Takei wrote an article titled, Valuable Music and Music Literature Newly Purchased in Our Country in which he detailed this purchase of items from Bone. According to Takei, Bone was financially troubled due to the amount of material he had gathered in order to write The Guitar and Mandolin and was thus offering to sell his collection. This included sheet music, magazines, instruments, and portraits. As mentioned above, Takei first bought three instruments and some music. In 1922 Takei bought about 270 pieces of music of which about 170 were for guitar solo. These included works by: Mertz, Giuliani, Carulli, Carcassi, Zani de Ferranti, Molino, Bosch, Küffner and others. All of these were out of print editions. Here are the other works Takei listed in the article:
- Mertz Mazurka (Piano and Guitar)
- Molino Grande Concerto Op.56 (Guitar, 2 Violins, 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns)
- Giuliani Grand Concerto Op.36 (Guitar, Violins 1 and 2, Cello, Bass, Viola)
- Giuliani Third Grand Concerto (arr.) Op.70 (Guitar and Piano)
- Giuliani (Moscheles) Grand Duo Concertant (Guitar and Piano)
- Schulz and Praeger Duo (Guitar and Piano)
- de Call Serenade Op.16 (Guitar and Violin)
- de Call Serenade Op.76 (Guitar and Piano)
- Küffner Serenade Op.4 (Guitar, Flute, Violin)
In addition to the music he also acquired about 500 magazines from the late 19th century. These include: The Troubador (1890-1901 issues), Measure (issues from 1900), Gitarist [from Russia] (1902 issues), Die Gitarre, Revue (1897-1902 issues). He also bought a Mertz manuscript to add to the Carulli manuscript he had bought earlier.
On January 21, 1923 Takei sponsored the 1st All Japan Mandolin Ensemble Concorso. This was the very first concours to be held in Japan, but unfortunately is not recognized as such today. Later that same year on the 1st of September Takeis collection was completely lost in the fire that resulted from the Great Kanto Earthquake. The only part of the collection that was saved was his Lacôte which was not at his home at the time. His collection, of course, contained the music bought from Philip Bone.
In December of 1923 the orchestra was reassembled and renamed Orchestra Sinfonica Takei. The following March the previous journal, Mandolin and Guitar, was renamed The Study of the Mandolin and Guitar and resumed publication. By October of 1924 the orchestra was prepared to continue their concert schedule. Also in October Takei published a book titled Mandolin, Guitar and Their Orchestras. This is a very comprehensive, 500 page book that covers topics such as: histories of the mandolin and guitar, performance tips for orchestras, a 10 year history of the Orchestra Sinfonica Takei, etc. October also saw the inauguration of the 1st Composition Concorso sponsored by Takei.
In 1925 Takei took over four European libraries and his collection was resumed. He again bought material from Bone. He acquired 10-20 portraits of guitarists and composers including Giuliani, Carulli and Sor. Many of these were apparently the same ones that appeared in Bones book. The music he bought included additional copies of Giulianis concertos, an ensemble work (including mandolin) by Molb [spelling?], about 10 works by Pratten, the complete works of Mertz, variations by Weber, and two manuscripts by Jansen [?]. Takei is unclear about exactly where these four European libraries came from, but in an article in the March, 1927 issue of The Study of the Mandolin and Guitar Takei mentions that he bought music from two locations in Germany - the former collection of Johann Rotwiel [spelling?] and a rental library in Regensburg. Works included: Carulli, Derwort, de Call, Carcassi, Diabelli, Dunst, Ferrari, Giuliani, Horetzky, Kapeller, Küffner, Hummel, Löhr, Mekarsky, Oberleitner, Padowetz, Raab, de Schaky, Sobernheim [?], Stoll, Wanczura, Briest, Neumann, Müller, Kreutzer, Navone, Bayer, Gode [?], Lemoine, Strauss, etc. (One-third of these works were from the Rotweil collection.) The interesting thing about the items from the Rotweil collection is that they carry an ex libris stamp with the date 1813. When Takei bought these items he still had contacts with Bone, but apparently Bone had increased his prices but was offering less interesting items.
In October, 1925 he published a second book titled Glimpses of the Mandolin and Guitar. Also a 500-page book, it focused on individual guitarists and mandolinists. There are articles on Vahdah Bickford, George Krick, William Foden, Carlo Munier, etc. There is also a large section of articles written by Takei on various topics such as: the faults of guitar and mandolin performers, criticism of the first opuses of famous guitar composers, etc. Takei took much of his information about foreign composers from Bones The Guitar and Mandolin and issues of Cadenza and Crescendo from America.
In September, 1926 he performed in the presence of the Swedish Crown Prince and Princess at the detached palace of Kasumigaseki. Unfortunately, I have not found any information related to this performance.
Though the dates are confusing, it was most likely in the last half of 1926 that Takei actually succeeded to the title of Baron. This occurred with the death of the Taisho Emperor and the ascedancy of the Showa Emperor in 1926.
Andrés Segovia came to Japan in October of 1929 for a series of concerts at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo (and also performed in Osaka and Kobe). Takei wrote the program and notes for his performances. Numerous articles appeared in the October, November, December and January issues of The Study of the Mandolin and Guitar written by Takei and others.
During the years 1929 - 1931 Takei purchased at auction (by telegraph) three letters written by Mauro Giuliani. More information about this can be found in Thomas Hecks Mauro Giuliani: Virtuoso Guitarist and Composer (Editions Orphée, 1995).
In March, 1931 he was appointed a member of the committee of the Second Conference of the International Mandolin Music Federation in Zurich, Switzerland. This is another of Takeis activities that I have not been able to research.
Here is the photo for Orchestra Sinfonica Takeis 1934 New Years card.
Owing to Japans war activities the Orchestra Sinfonica Takei had its name changed to Takei-Gakudan ("gakudan is the Japanese name for orchestra) in June of 1941. Because of a shortage of paper The Study of the Mandolin and Guitar ceased publication and its replacement The Material for the Study of the Mandolin and Guitar was begun and published bimonthly - this was in a single page, newspaper format. The last concert of the Takei-Gakudan was held in December, 1943.
On May 25, 1945 Takeis house in Tokyo was burned down during an air raid. Because his collection had mainly been kept in a cellar most of it was saved, but it is unclear what items were actually lost. The three Giuliani letters Takei owned are of particular interest since their location is unknown and it can only be assumed that they were part of the collection that did not survive the air raid. It is known for a fact that since the house above ground was completely burned nothing could have survived outside of the cellar.
He was appointed Grand Master of Ceremonies of the Department of the Imperial Household on April 1, 1946. In March of 1947 he retired after receiving the Shinnin rank [personal appointment to the Emperor] (Im not sure of its equivalent in the West). The first concert after the war of the Orchestra Sinfonica Takei was held on November 6, 1949. While conducting the rehearsal of a perfomance of the orchestra on the 12th of December, 1949 he fell ill and subsequently died on the 14th. On the 20th he was posthumously promoted two ranks to the Junior Grade of the Second Rank.
At the time of his death his friends were preparing a two volume collection of his works for guitar. Unfortunately Takei only saw the publication of the first volume. These volumes were issued as one book of music in 1965 from Zen-on Music Publishers. This book has long been out of print and there is little recognition of Takeis activities by todays guitarists other than a Takei Prize awarded at the Tokyo International Guitar Contest. However, Gendai Guitar published, in 1995, a photo book of the history of the guitar in Japan with one page devoted to Takei. Though none of Takeis music could be considered to be repertoire standard, he should at least be remembered for his efforts and activities which kept the study of the guitar alive through the first half of this century in Japan.
*Takeis collection currently resides in the library of the Kunitachi Music University in Tokyo. It is still unavailable for public access. A large portion of the collection is made up of 19th century editions.
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Jiro Nakano was probably the most active guitarist/mandolinist/researcher outside of Tokyo. Considering that he is still alive at the age of 95 makes him the oldest of all the active guitarists in Japan. Nakano was born in Nagoya in 1902 and has lived there ever since. At about age 15 or 16 he entered the Nagoya Vocational high school as an assistant in the architecture department. When he received his first half-months pay of 20 yen he spent 19 yen of it on a Suzuki mandolin. However, it was an impulse purchase since he had neither heard the mandolin before nor knew how to play it. After he bought a method by Munier he began to practice in earnest. Two months after studying with this method he played a Munier composition which quite surprised his seniors in the architectural section of the school. At this point he formed a mandolin club of eight members which performed in Nagoya and outlying areas.
During this time Nakano spent all of his monthly earnings on music and began ordering overseas for foreign editions. He first began collecting in 1921 and continued until 1985 when he gave his collection to Doshisha University in Kyoto. Even after this he has continued his collection and is still active today.
After playing the mandolin for a year he picked up the guitar. As with the mandolin he knew nothing about the guitar except that he had a desire to play it. From his own explanation he would play until his fingers began to hurt at which point he would then look through guitar-related catalogs.
Though the dates are unclear, sometime soon after the end of World War I Nakano and two of his friends, Akira Kawase and Hiroshi Kawai, bought guitars from Philip Bone in London. When they first wrote to Bone they received photos of of about 20 different guitars priced from 20 to 30 pounds. Even though Nakano did not have the money to buy any of these guitars he knew he had to find some way to pay for one. Kawase bought a ten-string Stauffer that had a dedication from Giulio Regondi to his doctor, Caisford . According to Bone, this guitar was bought after Caisfords death by Madame Sidney Pratten for one of her students. Bone obtained the guitar after this students death. [This guitar was bought by Kogoro Mizobuchi after Kawases death. It is now in the collection of the luthier Masaji Nobe. Sometime during its time in Mizobuchis hands the floating bass strings were removed - including the extension on the head - to turn it into a six-string.] Kawai bought a Lacôte that was used by Felix Horetzky and Nakano chose a Panormo. Upon the guitars arrival in Japan the three took turns playing them. Nakano knew that he would not be able to take his Panormo home because he could not pay for it. However, owing to Kawais generosity (and his wealth) Nakano was able to keep the guitar. At the same time they bought the guitars they also purchased an album of guitar works that had once been in the possesion of Felix Horetzky. It is in three volumes and contains a total of 27 works. Unfortunately, it is inaccessible since it remains in either the collection of Kawai or Kawase - since both of them have passed away the collection is in the hands of the family.
Even though Nakano was self-taught on the guitar, by the time he was 24 (after 7 years of study) he had begun performing concerts. His first concert in July, 1926 consisted of a wide range of music:
- Ferdinando Carulli Serenade Op.96 (2G)
- Napoleon Coste Valse Favorite Op.46
- Ferdinando Carulli Ma Normandie Op.364
- Antonio Cano El Delirio
- Jose Ferrer Misiva Afectuosa Op.58
- Benvenuto Terzi Sera di Maggio Op.2
- Ferdinando Carulli Rondeau Op.302 (2G)
- Calace Prelude No.9 Op.110 (mando-lute)
As mentioned in "The Early Guitar in Japan," Fukuichiro Ikegami was the first guitarist to hold a solo recital, but Nakano held his first recital only 3 months after Ikegamis second recital in April 1926. Nakano also held his recital earlier than Okawaras first one in July 1928.
In 1928 Nakano formed the Nagoya Mandolin Gakudan and at the first concert in October of the same year there were a total of 33 members performing under Nakanos direction. The group continued to perform twice a year through the succeeding years. Based on Nakanos conducting experiences with this and other groups he was chosen to lead the NHK Nagoya Broadcasting Orchestra in 1945.
Nakano first began to compose in 1931. Similar to his experiences with the mandolin and guitar he was also self-taught in composition. In addition to works for the mandolin and guitar he wrote songs, of which about 100 were childrens songs. Many of these childrens songs were written as part of his broadcasting work which started in 1936 at a local radio station, J.O.A.K..
Around this time he formed a five member mandolin group called Club Domenica whose repertory consisted of over 100 transcriptions by Nakano.
As a result of the positive reaction to the broadcasts at J.O.A.K. he founded the Nagoya Guitar and Mandolin Study Group in June 1936. At the end of that same year he began publication of a journal called Guitar and Mandolin World. This only ran for 18 issues at which time he stopped publication because he had started to contribute more regularly to magazines such as Armonia, Gaku-yu, and The Study of the Mandolin and Guitar. Gradually readers of these magazines began to realize the depth of his knowledge and his importance to the guitar in Japan. A list of Nakanos compositions, a catalog of his music and books, and an autobiography appeared in a special honorary issue of Fret (Japan) magazine in 1962. The Japan Guitar Society, in the Journal of the Japan Guitar Society (Oct./1986 Vol.6), published a special section on Nakano when he gave his collection to Doshisha University.
One of Nakanos achievements was winning a prize for his 30 Variations on a Theme of Paganini [Op. 70 (1951)] in the 1954 International Guitar Concours sponsored by the Italian Guitar Society. Since this composition was published (Cinque Variazioni sur un Tema di Paganini Berben, 1956) in connection with the concours it was probably the first time for a Japanese guitar work to be published in Europe. Overall Nakano wrote considerably more compositions for the mandolin than the guitar. He wrote a total of about 38 works for guitar - this includes solos, duos and ensemble works.
From the very early issues of Gendai Guitar (which was started in 1967 by the luthier Masaru Kohno) Nakano was a frequent contributor. In 1970 Gendai Guitar put out a Supplemental Issue No.2 in which Nakano contributed information on 19th century guitarists to a list of major guitarists. Beginning in January 1974 he had a 24 part consecutive series that was a list of all the guitar compositions from Whistlings Handbuch der Musikalischen Literatur. Then from April 1977 he had a 31 part series comprising his autobiography. Along with these regular contributions he edited many volumes for Gendai Guitar of compositions by Sor, Carulli, and Coste which were taken from original 19th century prints in his own collection. The first editions he worked on were those of Sor (he edited 9 out of 10 solo volumes and 2 out of three duet volumes). These were published many years before those of Brian Jefferey. The three volumes of Coste were also published well before those of Chanterelle. He had personal standards which were never to change a note from the original to the urtext edition - all stemming and notes (even possible printing mistakes in the original) stayed exactly the same.
For the majority of guitarists who do not read Japanese it is difficult to get a good comprehension of exactly how much information Nakano collected about the guitar. Often his efforts were limited to magazine articles or private publications of a mandolin dictionary (comparable to Bones The Guitar and Mandolin"), a hand-mimeographed catalog of his collection and numerous other self-published books. All of the information Nakano used came from his own collection. As mentioned above he began collecting almost from the moment he picked up the guitar. Nakano still has the original letters from the 1930s from used music shops in Europe where he obtained most of his 19th century prints. Because of his long involvement with the guitar he was able to see how much more difficult it was becoming to find original 19th century music. He was also very aware what happens when a guitarist dies and his collection is either locked away by relatives, sold off in parts or left in inaccessible limbo by a library that is unaware of its importance. In Japan there are only two guitar collections currently housed in a library - Nakanos and Takeis. All of the other collections contain a great deal of historically valuable material, but are inaccessible because they are still held by relatives who are unaware of the collections importance. Because of this knowledge - or worry - Nakano decided to give his collection to Doshisha University in Kyoto. At the age of 83, when he knew he still had time to deal with his collection, he gave a total of 12,000 items to the university. By 1992 the collection had been completely catalogued and is publicly accessible. Fortunately, Nakano has had the chance to see his collection properly dealt with and used as a valuable resource not only for its tremendous amount of original 19th century European prints, but also for information on the history of the guitar in Japan (in addition to music, it contains a large amount of magazines and books - including the complete issues of Armonia [pre- and post-war], and the Mandolin and Guitar journals published by Takei) .
Nakano, at 95 years of age, is still active with Nagoya area mandolin societies and occasionally Gendai Guitar. Last year he conducted a mandolin orchestra for performances that were released on CD ("Romantic Mandolin 1996, Voicelle VXD-96600). Currently he is rehearsing the orchestra for another CD release sometime this year.
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The Early Guitar and Biographies of Important Guitarists in Japan
the lute in the 16th century, the guitar in the late 19th century, the most influential guitarists who were first active in the pre-war period
bilingual in Japanese and English
Copyright © 1997 by Robert Coldwell. All Rights Reserved.
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Last Modified:Tuesday, June 24, 1997