Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Letter from Professor Elliot Weisgarber

at British Columbia University (Vancouver, B.C.) to Matsuda Akira in 1965:

"Traditional Japanese music is at the point of confronting the crisis of destruction. If some measure is not taken soon in relation to traditional music, there is the possibility that it will cease to exist completely. If such a thing could happen, it would have to be called a great tragedy for world culture, but we have to recognize that if the present situation should continue, this tragedy could indeed occur. The effort to prevent this is an urgent problem for the future of Japanese music, and this is in fact an important task. I think that it is necessary for a movement to reform the educational curriculum of music education in the primary schools to take place.

The folk music of Japan--this is the source of one of the richest musics in the world--has almost been forgotten by the majority of the Japanese people. It is not at all bad for Japanese to learn Western music. In contemporary society it may even be necessary. But the methods of learning Western music have become too arbitrarily polarized. Why should the study of Western music become the reason to chase traditional music into a corner? I don't understand the notion that the two are not compatible.

The music culture of Japan must be recognized as having equal value to that of Japanese arts and Japanese literature. . . ."

[Professor Weisgarber's original letter has been lost. The text above is a translation of its contents from Japanese.]

empty house