History of the Guitar in Japan continued

Published by Robert Coldwell on

This article originally appeared on my personal site icoldwell.com in 1997 and was titled Clarification of Information in “An Introduction to the History of the Guitar in Japan”.
Since posting the set of web pages regarding the early history of the guitar in Japan I have received some new information on some points that I thought it would be helpful to pass on.

– The Takei Prize that is awarded at the Tokyo International Guitar Contest is awarded for composition and is not actually an integral part of the contest since it is mainly a performance contest.

– Yasumasa Obara was active in the pre-war period as I mentioned, but only very slightly. It was after the war that he had a major impact on the guitar in Japan. In addition to his worldwide performances (he often appeared in Guitar News) he published a magazine, numerous methods and anthologies, and a very informative book that I listed in the bibliography of the previously posted pages.

– In the section on Jiro Nakano I wrote that Akira Kawase bought a guitar from Philip Bone that originally bore an inscription from Giulio Regondi to his student and doctor “Caisford.” In the original Japanese text I imagined the name to be something like “Gaythsford” or “Gaisford” but there is always the problem of trying to figure out the original spelling since in Japanese all non-Japanese names are translated phonetically. In Stewart Button’s The Guitar in England: 1800-1924 on page 135 in note 3 it is stated that, “Dr. Caisford [italics mine] was an amateur guitarist and at one time Regondi’s physician.” Because the Japanese text had the equivalent of a “G” and Button had a “C” I just assumed that Button was correct (but did not think that this minute bit of information warranted an entry in the bibliography). However, through discussions with Jun Sugawara (who actually pointed out the “C” in Button), who researched the matter further with Yu’ichi Adachi and Jiro Nakano, it was found that the name as written in the Button book is wrong. Yu’ichi Adachi wrote a small book a few years ago on Kogoro Mizobuchi (the second owner of the Regondi-signed Stauffer) in which there was a photograph of the guitar minus the floating bass strings and a very tiny copy of a letter from Bone stating the guitar’s history. Most of the information about its changing hands came from the bits I could pick out from the blurred photograph. Jun Sugawara contacted Adachi and discussed the letter with him. Later both Adachi and Jun Sugawara contacted Jiro Nakano. Apparently there were two or three letters in total discussing the various guitars’ origins and Nakano sent a copy of one which was not printed in Adachi’s book.

At the top right hand side of the letter “New Purchases” is handwritten and below everything else is typewritten except for written-in prices for the guitars. Here is the exact wording of the letter:


Regondi’s guitar made by Stauffer of Vienna and bearing his autograph and also the following inscription of Regondi – To his friend and pupil T. Gaisford Esq. M.D. from Giulio Regondi 15th April 1871. This is a very large instrument and in good condition with machine head. £30

Horetzky’s guitar, made by Lacote, Paris, No.64 and bearing his autograph. A large instrument pearl and ivory inlaid, with patent machine in good condition. £21

The guitar has not been seen firsthand by anyone I have contacted so I have no confirmation of whether Regondi’s signature is still intact or not.

– I now have more specific information on the CD that Jiro Nakano released last year. The title is “Profumo Romantico de Mandolino” (VXD-96600) and was released through Voicelle. It contains works for mandolin orchestra by C.G. Walter, V. Billi, La Scala G.B., G. Manente, C. Munier, J. Nakano, D. Berruti, R. Calace, A. Amadei, C. Acton, C.A. Bracco, H. Lavitrano and W.R. Heykens. I have also found a CD of Morishige Takei’s works for mandolin orchestra titled “Japanese Melodies for Mandolin Orchestra – Works by Morishige Takei” (Nippon Columbia COCS-11785). It contains a total of 27 different pieces which have a melodic range from very Italian to very Japanese. Many of these are arrangements of solo works. I would say that it is the best recording for anyone interested in the guitar(mandolin) in Japan. There are currently no guitar recordings which contain only works by Japanese guitarist/composers who were active early in this century.

I am aware of the difficulty involved in trying to find CD’s like these, but since I obtained them from Gendai Guitar I’m sure anyone could do the same through the internet. Please check their home page.

Categories: Japan


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.