Japan had been isolated from western countries for nearly two centuries in its history until 1854. As a consequence, locking the country from western culture and manners naturally led the Japanese nation to arose nationalism strongly. On a contrary, it triggered them to face with a difficulty to absorb new systems of living and thought when the country pushed forward towards modernization and westernization in the late nineteenth century. The conflict and difficulty did not only affect the regular citizens and society, but also musicians and music educations that related to western culture closely.
Chieko Hara, a Japanese native pianist, was one of musicians who lived in the era of significant change throughout society. She enjoyed the benefits of studying with the Spanish pianist, Petillo Villaverde, as she grew up in a cosmopolitan city, Kobe, Japan. By the age of 13, her picturesque and expressive piano playing was far advanced in musical making from the Japanese standard, and she was sent to Paris for further study.
Studying abroad brought Hara a dramatic change as a pianist, and being exposed to western culture made her an uncommonly westernized Japanese young woman. She was praised and welcomed by the Japanese audience and critics at first, yet eventually her attitude and assertiveness triggered music critics to develop a feeling of repulsion. As a result of having conflicts with the critics for decades, Chieko's name and international achievements were eliminated from Japanese music history.
Hara continued to have a stormy life going through WWII and divorce with her first husband. After all, she moved to Italy and married to one of the most accomplished cellists, Gaspar Cassadó. Her career flourished as an artist in Europe and the United States. Hara's life seemed stable and fulfilling, yet it turned out to be empty and lonely triggered by Cassadó's death in 1966. After all, her brilliant solo career did not come back to her life ever again, especially in Japan because of the conflicts with the music critics over decades.
This thesis observes conflicts occurred between Japanese music critics and Hara. It also provides details of Hara's colleagues, Kazuko Yasukawa and Motonari Iguchi's challenges and achievements in Japanese society, and compares differences between their domestic and international success at their time. In analyzing Hara's journey through life one is captivated by this forerunner among female musicians in the 20th century and the study of Japanese piano education in a society containing a deeply-rooted struggle to embrace new ideas and perspectives.
|School:||University of Washington|
|School Location:||United States -- Washington|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Cassado, Gaspar, Hara, Chieko, Japan, Piano|
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