Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Miyashita, Kazuko. “Foster’s Songs in Japan.” American Music 30 (Fall 2012): 308-25.

Since the late nineteenth century, Stephen Foster’s songs have been widely known in Japan and hold a familiar place in Japanese musical education. Foster’s music was first introduced to Japanese Shogunate officials in 1853 by American sailors aboard U.S. commodore Matthew C. Perry’s fleet, which demanded the opening of Japanese ports. During the modernization of Japanese education beginning in the 1870s, many Western tunes were incorporated into the music curriculum as uncredited Shoka (formally Mombusho Shoka, or official songs for the school curriculum) with new Japanese texts. Shuji Izawa, director of the Institute of Music, based this new music curriculum on Luther Whiting Mason’s “Music Charts,” which Izawa studied during an 1875 trip to the United States. Several Foster songs, including Old Folks at Home, Massa’s in de Cold Ground, and My Old Kentucky Home, were adapted into educational Shoka as early as 1888. Some Foster songs were also adapted as hymns in early-twentieth-century Japanese hymnals. Before Foster’s music was banned during World War II (along with other Western composers), it was also very popular on children’s radio programs. Because Foster’s music was adopted into Japanese musical culture largely disconnected from Foster himself, there is little understanding of Foster’s biography or his place in American history. Recent Japanese music textbooks have emphasized Foster’s biography in service of a cross-cultural music curriculum.

Works: Tateki Owada: Aware no Shojo (313-14); Anonymous: Zouka no Waza (313), Kitaguni no Yuki (313), Yasashiki Kokoro (313); Yoshikiyo Katou: Haru Kaze (313-14); Kazuma Yoshimaru: Yube no Kane (313); Kokei Hayashi: Shakura Chiru (313); Takashi Iba: Wakare (313)

Sources: Stephen Foster: Old Folks at Home (313-14), Massa’s in de Cold Ground (313-14), Old Black Joe (313), My Old Kentucky Home (313)

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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