chapter  2
24 Pages

Western Challenge, Japanese Musical Response: Military Bands in Modern Japan

Brass bands enjoy enormous popularity in Japan today.2 Many amateur groups are active throughout the country. School bands are an integral part of music education. The police and fire departments maintain bands and the Self Defence Force bands perform regularly. Professional groups such as the Tokyo Kōsei Wind Ensemble, previously directed by internationally acclaimed conductor Frederick Fennel, continue to be active. The roots of these bands in Japan stretch back more than 150 years; over that time the roles of bands changed dramatically. From the late Edo Period (1600-1868) to the Meiji Era (1868-1912), bands were a part of the musical Westernization of the country. The adoption of fife and drum music and the founding of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy bands in 1871 enhanced the prestige of the military and supported it in wartime and peace.