Tanabe, Hisao

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Tanabe, Hisao

Tanabe, Hisao, Japanese musicologist and composer; b. Tokyo, Aug. 16, 1883; d. there, March 5, 1984. His mother played and taught Japanese instruments; he began learning the violin at the Tokyo Music School in 1903. While studying physics at the Univ. of Tokyo 1904-07), he took courses in composition with Noël Peri; also had postgraduate studies in acoustics (1907-10) and studied Japanese music and dance with Shöhei Tanaka. He taught acoustics, music history, and theory at the Toyo Music School (1907-35) and the Imperial Music Bureau (1919-23); also taught Japanese music history at Kokugakuin Univ. (1923), the Univ. of Tokyo (1930), Waseda Univ. (1947), and Musashino Coll. of Music (1949). In 1936 Tanabe founded and served as the first president of the Soc. for Research in Asiatic Music; his field studies included collections of music from Korea (1921), Formosa and the Ryuku Islands (1922), northern China (1923), and the Pacific Islands (1934). He was a pioneer among modern Japanese musicologists; his writings and lectures on European music were important for its introduction into Japan in the early 20th century. He publ, nearly 50 books on a variety of musical subjects, especially oriental music and acoustics. He also performed widely, both European and Japanese music, and composed a number of works. He publ, his autobiography as Tanabe Hisao jijoden (2 vols., 1981, 1982). After his death, the Soc. for Research in Asiatic Music instituted the Tanabe Hisao Prize.


ippon ongaku kōwa (Lectures on Japanese Music; 1919); Toyô ongakushi (History of Oriental Music; 1930); Ongaku riron (Theories of Music; 1929; rev. 1956); Ongaku onkyogaku (Acoustics of Music; 1951); also ed. Nihon ongakushû (Collection of Japanese Music in Staff Notation; 1931) and Kinsei Nihon ongakushû (Collection of Modern Japanese Music in Staff Notation; 1931).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire