Japanese Violinists’ Birthdays in October

Japanese Violinists’ Birthdays in October

Birthday violinists in October include SUZUKI Shin’ichi  鈴木鎮一  (1898-1998) on 17 October, Midori (b. 1971, known in Japan as GOTÔ Midori 五嶋 みどり) on 25 October and TAKEZAWA Kyôko 竹澤恭子 (b. 1966) on 30 October.

Suzuki Shin’ichi, is of course, best known for his development the “mother tongue” method of violin teaching, also known in Japan as sainô kyoiku 才能教育 (”talent education”). The Japanese only started calling it “Suzuki mesôdo” スズキ・メソード after Suzuki’s method became famous abroad.

Suzuki Shin'ichi teaching

Suzuki Shin’ichi teaching

TAKEZAWA Kyôko 竹澤恭子 is one of many violinists who initially studied with the Suzuki Method, starting at the age of three. In fact, she received her first violin for her third birthday. A few days later, on 2 November, she had her first lesson, with YAMAMURA Shôichi 山村晶一. At the age of six she became one of the young musicians to travel abroad with a group of Suzuki children. She has written about her experience with the Suzuki Method here (in Japanese).

Later she studied at Juilliard with Dorothy DeLay and KAWASAKI Masao 川崎雅夫. Since then Takezawa has enjoyed a successful performing career both in Japan and abroad as a soloist and chamber musician. A former winner of international competitions, she now herself sits on jurys: this month she will be on the jury of the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition.

Midori did not learn with the Suzuki Method, by the way, although she too started to play the violin as a small child. Her main teacher was her mother GOTÔ Setsu 五嶋節 (b. 1949), who also acted as a de facto assistant teacher while Midori had lessons with Dorothy DeLay. Midori’s spectacular debut in New York and her subsequent career (mostly outside Japan) as a violinist, as well her engagement in outreach programmes (starting in 1992 with her own foundation, Midori & Friends, in New York), are well-known and need no introduction here. In 2004 she was appointed as a Distinguished Professor to the Jascha Heifetz Chair in Violin at the USC Thornton School of Music. She continues to combine performing, outreach and teaching. (I continue to marvel at how she can fit all these absorbing activities into her days!)

Read more about these and other violinists in Not by Love Alone!

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