Japanese Poetry in Western Art Song
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Western art songs written on Japanese poems, Tanka, appeared in the early twentieth century as a late manifestation of Japonisme, the Japanese influence on Western art and music. The songs discussed in this dissertation include Japanisches Regenlied (1909) by Joseph Marx, Three Japanese Lyrics (1912-13) by Igor Stravinsky, Petits Poi!mes Japonais (1919) by Francesco Santoliquido, and Romances on Texts by Japanese Poets (1928-32) by Dmitri Shostakovich. Japonisme emerged as a significant movement in late-nineteenth-century Western art when Japanese artworks were first exported to Europe. Under the influence of these works, Western painters soon adopted Japanese techniques especially from traditional wood-block prints (Ukiyo-e). The appreciation of Japanese art and culture eventually emerged in Western music as a part of Orientalism and exoticism, first in opera, then in Debussy's music, and lastly in art songs. The Japanese poems used in Western art songs examined here are most commonly referred to as Tanka (a short poem), a genre that flourished between the third and tenth centuries. Because of the unique characteristics of the Japanese language, translating Japanese poems into European languages requires a certain imagination. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the relationship between the original Japanese poems and their translations into European languages, and to discuss their transformation. The introduction provides a brief overview of Japonisme in Western art in the late nineteenth century. Chapter One focuses on the basic elements of Japanese poetry in order to outline the characteristics unique to the Japanese language. Considering Japanese influence within the category of "Orientalism" and "Exoticism" in music, Chapter Two explores the evidence for Oriental and exotic influences on Western music. Chapter Three focuses more specifically on Japanese influences in Western music. A detailed study of poems and translations, and their relationship to music is the core focus of Chapter Four. Chapter Five concludes that Tanka vanished from Western art songs soon after the songs under consideration were composed.
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