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XX Guitar Convention

The International Guitar Convention took place in Berlin from 2nd to 15th November. I would like to thank with all my heart the organizer for inviting the Congress. In particular, I wish to thank Prof. Karl Junkmann and Maestro Siegfried Behrend for their hospitality. I learned many things during this Congress and I consider it my obligation to transmit to the Japanese people what I experienced. I wish to be able to develop the field of guitar music in in always better way and I will continue to write articles about it.

17th October: departure from Sendai, arrival in Tokyo and preparation of material for the Congress. 23th October: departure from the airport of Haneda with the company SAS and arrival at Manila for a stay. 24th Octobert: departure from Manila to Rom to the south. 25th October: arrival in Rome and departure from Rome to Düsseldorf passing by at Zurich, and from Düsseldorf I arrive by changing airplane at Berlin. When I arrived in Berlin, Prof. Dr. Karl Junkmann of the Studio Schöring awaited me who accompanied me to the Hotel Pension Teske.

On 26th October I met Prof. Siegfried Behrend, organizer of the Congress, who was returning from a tournée in Russia. On 27th October: press conference at the restaurant Berliner Kindl with the journal Die Kurier. For the first time I met Prof. Behrend of 25 years being especially active and sympathetic. Arrival of Bruno Henze, harpist at the theatre of Berlin East after the Second World  War, after having lost all his instruments and his partitions as well as all the writing that his father Carl Henze had left, who is now a teacher in the zone Wedding of Berlin West.

From 27th October on: I start to have meetings with Behrend and to go to listen to the exercises of the orchestra and the chamber music all the days. In the meantime I visited museums, the zoo and the botanic garden.

On 30th October: arrival of Prof. Ekmetzoglou of the Conservatory of Athens and of Prof. Stephan Pratt of the Conservatory of Ankara. Prof. Ekmetzoglou, who has only 48 years, has now become a very good artist. I had some lessons with Andrés Segovia and Emilio Pujol at the  Accademia Chigiana of Siena. Being asked by Maestro Jiro Nakagawa, I tried to get some information from Prof. Ekmetzoglou about his Maestro Nicolas Lavdas, resulting in the promise that he would send me inforamtion and photos after his return to Athens.

On 1st November arrived the Japanese Takamine and Prof. Heinz Bischoff with his wife. It is the first time that I met Prof. Bischoff, who had more than 70 years, and I was moved by his performance on lute at the home of Behrend. At Berlin, I saw on the street the information about the  XXth  International Guitar Congress that will start tomorrow.

2nd November: opening of the Congresso at Eichengalerie in the Charlottenburg Palace in which dominates a lamp of 300 alighted candels alighted that illuminates an very well dressed audience. The curtain of the Congress opens with a divertimento by Mozart directed by Maestro Hannuschke. The programmes of the Congress foreseen during the day are the following: seminars, conferences, speeches and meetings, while the evening programmes will consist of concerts in different rooms starting at 8 o clock. There will be recitals by Erner Berger and by Gimpel, but I don not have the time to go there for listening. Karajan is on tournée outside Berlin. I met with Mr. Konrad Wölki and his wife.

My conference took place on 7th November at 10 am and I had a lot of applause by Prof. Romolo Ferrari (represantant of Italy) and of all the others, as well for the idea to use a projector and the paintings. Also the performance of the piece Matasuri by Syoji Wakamatsu went well interpretated by Takamine. There are many requests for the manuscript of my conference.

At the guitar exhibition organized by the music company Bote & Bock since 5th November participated from Japan the guitars handmadde by Nakade and by Kawano, Dynamic Guitar of Yamaha and of Koga (only presented as photo). There were as well exposed the cords ‘Marnko’ of Mr. Yoshiyuki Koishikawa.

Because Berlin has dry air, the guitar sounds good. Mr. Kano presented his guitar ‘Mokurei’ only by photo, but Adolf Meiner liked it very much and Behrend and Henze admired in particular the accuracy of the finitions.

There were also exposed various methods and between them: The Method of the Guitar by Yasuo Abe, The Technique of the Guitar by Kyomoto, Tarrega-Roch by Masao Koga and The Method of the Guitar by Hisao Ito. There was as well a presentation of Japane music on disc: the Gagaku, the Music of Koto, the music of Morinari Takei and the music of Masao Koga. Herbert Baumann was especially fascinated by the music Gagaku and asked serveral times for it.

The evening of 8th November dedicated to Japanese music for guitar, was organized by the German-Japanese Association in the Congress Hall, a room as big as the Palace Japanese Youth  in Tokyo with a very good acustic. It was nice to see more than hundred cars that arrived for the concert. The Japanese flag was placed on the stage with the flag of Berlin on the right and the German flag on the left. Before our performance, the Consul Hogan pronounced a speech.

I disliked a lot that Yasumasa Kohara had not been able to come to play, but in his place we had some special performers, like the flutist Norio Oshima and the soprano Shigeko Yano, who had a great success appearing in kimono. At 7 pm in the evening of the same day, was foreseen a transmission of our concert on RIAS (only transmission during the Congress). After the concert, we were invited by the Consul and Ms Hogan to a reception at the hotel Kempinski in honour of Prof. Karl Junkmann.

I have to admit that Prof. Behrend having only 25 years was really very good to organize this Congress of two weeks, without being able to count on the collaboration of Prof. Bruno Henze and Prof. Conrad Welch, who both have a certain age.

I would have wished to meet Erwin Schwarz-Reiflingen, but I received a letter with greetings from him, as he was not able to be present. I knew him well as editor of Die Gitarre, as I have published The Studies for Guitar.

Behrend is not yet perfect as guitarist, but he is very good in combined music, with chant and orchestra. I have to mention as wel that he was not perfect in hosting the participants, but he was very good in  realizing the Congress even without the advice of the old Maestri for guitar. What we appreciated in particular, was the support of RIAS and SFD and the collaboration of young musicians and good composers as Herbert Bauman, Heiz Hartig, Hannuschke and Carl Goroin. An ideal situation für a young musician and I would say important for all of us.

I felt a bit the absence of Spain and France. The partecipating musicians that did not appear on the stage, like Jim Gilbert, guitarist and painter from Mexico, Manuel Alboreda from Columbia, Stephan Pratt from Ankara (Turkey) and Moshe Levy from Israel, did participate at the Congress every day. Prof. Ekmetzoglou from Athens, who had three lessons with Segovia and Pujol at the Accademia Chigiana, seemed to be already a great artist. Enrico Tagliavini from Italy had the signs of the Accademia Chigiana on his jacket and a good technique to play well Legnani, but he is not yet perfect as an artist.

Personally, I was profoundly impressed by the performance on lute of Prof. Heinz Bischoff with lady Rapp-Poli and the most emotional thing about this thatI was able to listen to it in the antique hall  of Charlottenburg Palace.

It was worthwhile to participate at the Congress. I was really satisfied of all these opportunities. As soon as I will return to Japan, I will write some music for lute with the precise indications I had only now and I must say that I was lucky to listen to performances of that high level, in particular of combined music, like guitar with flute, chamber music and with orchestra.

I would like to add an unforgetable collaboration of the soprano Shigeko Yano and the flutist Norio Oshima, both resident in Berlin.

The soprano Shigeko Yano is very good and on 26th October she sang as soloist in the Hall of the Conservatory the Messe in si minore of Bach, directed by Maestro Karl Forster, with the quire of the Cathedral St. Hedwig and other singers: Hildegard Rütgers (contralto), Helmut Kerbo (tenor), Hans-Olaf Hudemann (basso). We really feel proud about her. The soprano Yano did sing many times with the guitaris Behrend having a contract with RIAS until 1960. She will send me one of their registrated tapes.

I did not imagine that our concert would go on transmission, which means that we are considered as exotic by the Germans and which does not mean that we are very good. In the newspaper, we found a not so good critic about our concert with the enchanting The Exotic Sound and it looks like the Germans are admiring Japan a lot.

Something other that I did not expect, was the proposal to take part in a documentation, a film of SFB (Sender Freies Berlin) which will be send to the cultural department of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Consulate.

Besides Tagliavini who did return to Italy before us, the participants of the film were Prof. Bischoff who played on the lute, Prof. Ekmetzoglou who performed a Greek melody and the soprano Yano who sang Japanese music (accompanied by Behrend), Takamine ed myself.

Takamine left for Hamburg to listen to the concert of  Segovia on 13th November. On 15th  November we did receive an invitation to participate in the film Kunstfilm, organized by the Akademie für Bildende Kunst. The participants were Rolf Rapp and Nives Poli (wife of Rapp and Prima Ballerina of the Scala as well as classic musician). I am looking forward to see this beautiful film that they will send to us.

On 16th November, one day after the ending of the Congress, I saw the film Dr. Albert Schweitzer at the Filmbühne. This was a wonderful occasion for me to enter in this dimension before going to Africa. It was nice to listen to the text and the voice of the young Schweizer and to see him play the organ of the church of Güyunsbach, whil his cat Susie was offering its collaboration on the pedals of the organ. I am looking forward to go to Africa to visit Dr. Schweizer.



I. Takahashi, La mia partecipazione al Ventesimo Congresso Internazionale della Chitarra, in «Armonia», V, n. 6, 1958, pp. 1-4.