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Talking about the Concert March in Japan

Posted by 梅本周平 on


Today I would like to talk a little briefly about the Concert March in Japan.

The history of wind bands in Japan began in 1869 when the Satsuma Domain formed the Satsuma Band (Satsuma Domain Military Band) under the leadership of Englishman John William Fenton. Hisamitsu Shimazu, the lord of the Satsuma domain, who wanted to westernize the military, followed the example of the British military band. Its members became the core of the military bands established in the army and navy after the abolition of the domain. It is said that the first time the sound of a military band was heard was when Matthew Perry visited Uraga in 1853.

In the Taisho era (1912-1926), wind bands were introduced into school music, and in addition, children's bands were formed in department stores and amusement parks, and private wind bands were organized to spread their music to the general public.

In 1935, the All Japan Band Competition was held annually and many concerts were held

After World War II, the wind bands lost the opportunity to perform, but were once again adopted in schools as the significance of music for youth education was reevaluated, and their numbers increased and performance techniques improved as new school music education shifted from shoka (chorus) to instrumental music education. In November 1961, the French Garde Republiquaine band visited Japan for the first time and gave a concert that greatly influenced the audience of the time.

Currently, the wind band market in Japan is centered on the All Japan Band Competition, which is held for amateur wind bands (including school bands), of which there are estimated to be 10,000 in Japan. The All Japan Band Competition has selected a "march" as its set piece almost every year (although there have been times when a non-march piece was selected depending on the year of the competition, the system is now such that one or two marches are selected almost every year).  One of these pieces is selected as the first prize winner of the Asahi Composition Award, a composition award that began in 1990, and has since become a gateway to success for young wind band composers.

Because of these circumstances, Japan has developed its own concert march, which was used in the repertoire of military bands in the old days, and from the 1980s and 1990s onward, mainly as a set piece for the All Japan Brass Band Competition. It can be said that parade marches have not developed to that extent.

The Japanese concert march is different from that of the U.S., the U.K., or Europe. There is something uniquely cliche about it. If you have heard original works by Japanese composers, you might recognize a few of them. Many of them might have a melodious and romantic sound, influenced by game music or Joe Hisaishi. Excellent marches are not so easy to come by, but the unique atmosphere may captivate you.

Of course, a concert march created by a good composer has nothing to do with game music or Joe Hisaishi, but has its own unique voice. At present, it can be said that it is a mixture of stones and stones. In such a situation, there are many good concert marches that are published by publishers and not assigned for the All Japan Symphonic Band Competition.

The Japanese concert march works available at our store are listed in the link below. Please take a listen.