Although we may traditionally associate the Mandolin with European tradition, in the years following its invention, the Mandolin spread widely around the world. By the early 1900’s the Mandolin as popular across the United States and Japan, thanks to traveling virtuosi such as Carlo Curti and Giuseppe Pettine.
Mandolin Popularity in Japan
Japanese interest in Mandolins became serious at the beginning of the 20th century while the country was being progressively westernized. For example, in 1901, musical educator Kimihachi Hiruma opened the first Mandolin school and also founded a mandolin ensemble.
In 1924 and 1925, mandolin virtuoso Raffaele Calace, toured extensively through Japan, and even gave a performance for the Japanese emperor, Emperor Taishō.
Notable Japanese Mandolin Composers
Morishige Takei (1890–1949), was a member of the court of Emperor Hirohito. Prior to World War 2, he created a mandolin orchestra in the Italian style, which would become the Sinfonia Mandolini Orchestra.
In 1928 he composed Spring to Go, Op. 29, a solo piece for Mandolin, along with 114 other works for Mandolin.
Jiro Nakano (1902–2000), spent much of his career re-working and arranging other Italian works specifically for mandolin orchestras.
Other notable Japanese composers are:
Seiichi Suzuki (1901–1980) who composed music for some early Kurosawa films.
Tadashi Hattori (1908–2008)
Hiroshi Ohguri (1918–1982).
Yasuo Kuwahara (1946–2003)
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