Introducing Japanese Composers By Keisetsu Chiba
I very much appreciate the opportunity to introduce Japanese composers who have written for euphonium and tuba. In 1959 Mr. William Bell visited Japan with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, a very important event for Japanese euphoniumists, tubists, and composers. Forty years have passed Mr. Bell’s visit, and the level of tuba and euphonium performance has gone up considerably. As a result of this improved level of perfor-I..ento mance, many Japanese composers have put great effort into composing new works for tuba land h h euphonium. A thoug t ere are still fewer new works for canS. our instruments than we find in Europe or the United States, the output of new work is certain to increase every year into the future. Some of the original works works.
Mr. Jiro Censhu, is a professor at the Osaka University of Arts where he teaches 20th century music theory, keyboard music theory, and related courses. He has written one euphonium solo, two tuba solos and two tubal euphonium en emble pieces. In general he utilizes a non-avant-garde approach. His music is principally in a neo-classic style, which makes the sensitivity of Japanese traditional music the keynote.
In 1989, a piece called Verdurous Aubade for Tuba and Piano< was composed for Hiroyuki Yasumoto (former Tuba player at Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and now Professor at Aichi University of Arts Science) and recorded on his CD. The piece is the composer’s second solo for tuba and is published by Toh-A Music Company, Ongaku No Tomo sha Corp. This work is composed in sonata form (without a development), and is massive. It is a work which suits the tuba very well. Starting with a cadenza-like style, the melody simply consists of 4/4 and 3/4 mixed meters at an andante tempo.
Mr. Soichi Konagaya began his career as a percussionist and studied composition later in life. He is very important to the Japanese tuba and euphonium repertoire and was among the best-versed Japanese composers of his generation with regard to the capabilities of the tuba. Konagaya has a couple of solos for tuba and euphonium and many tuba/euphonium ensemble works especially written and arranged for the famous TOKYO BARI-TUBA ENSEMBLE, which is a professional group in Japan. When this group was founded in 1975, his cooperation was indispensable to them.
Mr. Konagaya’s most famous original solo work is Fantasy for Tuba and Piano, written for Mr. Yasumoto in 1979. The piece was commissioned by Yasumoto and was performed at his first recital in Tokyo. The piece might be the first solo work for tuba by a Japanese composer to be performed in public. The Fantasy has three sections which begin with a cadenza-like introduction. The first section is supported by the low-pitched sound of the piano. It is heavy and moves slowly. Section II is a sketch/cadenza utilizing an expressionless piano background and starkly contrasting low, groaning tuba tuba part. The third section features a riotous tuba part with equally exciting music making from the piano.
Konagaya’s euphonium solo is titled the Fable for Solo Euphonium, Five Percussionists, and Band. The premiere was given by Mr. Toru Miura, euphonium and Konagaya as the featured percussionist. It has been recorded on CD by Shoichiro Hokazono (euphonium player of the Air Self Defense Force central musical band) with his band. The CD includes Konagaya’s wind ensemble works, released by King Records in Japan. A cadenza was added for Mr. Hokazono especially for the occasion of this recording.
Mr. Yasuhide Itoh is a composer representing the younger generation. He is active as a composer for a variety of instruments in many genres. hoh was born on December 7, 1960 in Hamamatsu-city, Shizuoka Japan. He graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music where he received both the BM and MM degrees in composition. By 1987, he had composed many works for wind instruments. He was invited to conduct his own works at a joint meeting of the Japanese Bandmasters Association and American Bandmasters Association in Tennessee in the USA, after which his name and reputation as a composer came to be well known in America. Since that time he has continued to compose prolifically, and has had great influence
on the wind instrument music community in Japan.
Toru Miura requested that Mr. Itoh write a work for euphonium solo. The resulting work, Fantasy Variations, has been performed around the world and was recorded by British euphoniumist, Steven Mead. Although the work is not yet published, it is possible to get it directly from the composer.
Mr. Itoh is also a wonderful pianist. All arrangements and piano accompaniments for Toru Miura in his publishing and recording projects are done by Mr. hoh. He has also collaborated with other prominent low brass artists as accompanist including Steven Mead.
Mr. Hiroshi Hoshina was born in Tokyo Japan in 1936. He is graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he completed a degree in composition. He has taught at several universities including The Tokyo College School of Music, Aichi Educational College and Hyogo Educational College. He has now retired from teaching and the college life so tha he can concentrate on composing. Hoshina is highly regarded as a teacher and is one of Japan’s most respected and admired composers. He is particularly famous in the wind ensemble communir, as his many compositions are performed in wind band competitions in Japan.
Hoshina wrote two wonderful works for us. One is Fantasy for Euphonium and Piano and the other is Concertina for Sale Tuba and Winds. The Fantasy for Euphonium and Piano was commissioned by Toru Miura. Mr. Miura performed thil work at the International Tuba/ Euphonium Conference in Austin Texas in1986. That same year, Dr. Brian Bowman also played the piece in Tokyo and Osaka during his recital tour in Japan.
Hoshina offers this comment about d Fantasy: “The music is in a three-part form. A Japanese atmosphere is present, although the influence of religious music is also felt. The euphonium and the pian play independent roles and hold the listener’ attention through their contrasting sounds. The coda completes the work calmly, bringing back thematic material from all three sections.”
Concertina for Solo Tuba and Winds was commissioned by Chitate Kagawa (Principal Tubist of The Sapporo Symphony Orchestra) who is a former student of Harvey G. Phillips. The piece is respectfully dedicated to Mr. Phillips and was first performed by him in 1987 with the Sapporo Wind Ensemble, conducted by Katsuhiro Sugawara at Sapporo Japan. The Concertina was also performed by Mr. Kagawa in 1997 with the same group and was recorded on CD last year by Takashi Abo, who is also a former student of Mr. Phillips.
The work is explained as follows in notes from the Japan Tuba Center:
“There are no avant-grade passages and no exessively technical challenges to overcome. The solo tuba melodies require delicate musical nuances and advanced musicianship. The cadenzas are short and effective. The Concertina provides for beautiful dialogues between the solo tuba and wind ensemble and reflects the enormous gifts of the composer.”
The euphonium and tuba are not as popular in Japan as they are in the United States or Europe, thus it has been difficult to capture the attention of all of our composers. More composers in Japan still need to experience the sound of our instruments. CD recordings of Japanese euphonium and tuba soloist artists are rare. The Japanese euphonium and tuba community are grateful to the composers from our country, especially those mentioned in this article, and we will continue to work together to inspire more Japanese composers to contribute to the repertoire of our great instruments.
About the author
Keisetsu Chiba is a native of Japan where he teaches Tuba/Euphonium at Hokkaido Asai Gakuen University and Hokkaido University of Education. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Tuba Performance degree from Musashino Music College in Tokyo, and a Master of Music degree in Tuba Performance from the University of Northern Iowa, where he studied with Dr. Jeffrey Funderburk.
Professor Chiba was the Louis A. Brown Visiting International Scholar at Valdosta State University in Georgia for the 2000-01 academic year. During his year-long appoint~ ment, he taught applied lessons to the tuba/euphonium students, Japanese music and culture, and worked with the student brass quintet.