Sunday, August 15, 2010

National Anthem of Manchukuo Empire

The Manchu State (Manchukuo, Manshūkoku) was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Dynasty of China. In 1931, the region was seized by Japan following the Mukden Incident and in 1932, a puppet government was created, with Puyi, the last Qing emperor, installed as the nominal regent and emperor.

In 1934, Manchukuo became an empire ("The Great Manchu Empire") and the new emporer, Henry Puyi (it was under his reign in China that the "Gong Jin'ou" anthem was written) comissioned a new anthem, "Mǎnzhōu dìguó guógē" (National Anthem of Manchukuo Empire) to be written by Zheng Xiao-xun, the same person who wrote the previous Manchurian anthem. The Japanese wished for the anthem to be translated into Japanese, so that both Chinese and Japanese could sing the anthem, but Zheng died in 1938. The new anthem was eventually adopted in 1942 and was in use until 1945. The composer of the anthem was Kosaku Yamada.

Kosaku Yamada (9 June 1886 - 29 December 1965) was a Japanese composer and conductor.

In many Western reference books his name is given as Kósçak Yamada. During his music study in the Imperial German capital of Berlin from 1910-13 he hated the moment when people laughed at him because his "normal" transliteration of his first name "Kosaku" sounded like the Italian "cosa" meaning "what" or "thing" + the German "Kuh" meaning "cow"; which resulted in his choosing a somewhat fanciful transliteration of Kósçak Yamada ever since. Yamada was born and died in Tokyo.

After studying at the Tokyo Music School, he left Japan for Germany where he enrolled in the Berlin Hochschule and learnt composition, before going to the USA for two years. Yamada left about 1600 pieces of music. Especially, songs (Lieder) amount to 700 pieces of music excluding songs for schools, municipalities and companies. They were performed and recorded by many singers which include Kathleen Battle, Ernst Haefliger and Yoshikazu Mera. His opera Kurofune (The Black Ships) is regarded as one of the famous Japanese operas.

As a conductor, Yamada made an effort to introduce many orchestral works to Japan. He was the first performer in Japan of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, Gershwin's An American in Paris, Mosolov's Iron Foundry, Sibelius' Finlandia, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1, Johann Strauss II's An der schönen blauen Donau, and Wagner's Siegfried Idyll.

The postal card above features a special postmark to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Manchukuo empire anthem composer Kosaku Yamada (1886-1986).