Kojiro Kobune , Conductor and Composer

Kojiro Kobune, one of the founders of YSO, was born in Yokohama on April 4 1907.  He formed an ensemble of Harmonica when he entered the junior high school. After graduation, he got a job at ‘Nihon Gakki’ and learned  composing and conducting on his own while studying  piano tuning.

At the age 21, he formed the choir ‘Robin’ and had the first concert. After that, he began to conduct ‘Yokohama Mandolin Club’ and composed and arranged the music for them. He met Teruko Kitazawa there, who was a very famous guitarist then and they got married. That’s why YSO has often played the music of Harmonica and Guitar.

 In 1929, he released the song ‘Boon Boon  1-4’ written by Hakushu Kitahara.

On December 1932, he founded YSO with Satoe Yasojima. YSO had the first  concert at Port Opening Memorial Hall on July 1st 1933. 
 At that concert, the players consisted of both the professional and the amateur.  But gradually the professional players left from YSO. 
 Kobune was disappointed about it and turned toward the activity of composing.

The members who stayed in YSO continued to play in small sized concerts.  Kobune returned to YSO as a conductor and they held the second concert in November 1936.  Since then , the concerts of YSO has been continued long and the 600th subscription concert was held in July 2007.

In 1936, he entered to ‘The federation of Japanese contemporary musicians’  in which there were many young composers, and released some music pieces.

Those days ,Alexander Nikolayevich Tcherepnin (1899-1977), a Russian pianist and composer, who had been exiled to Paris, came to Japan and published ‘Tcherepnin’s collection of Japanese composers’ music ’ .Kobune learned composing under Tcherepnin with Akira Ifukube during his staying in Japan and released “The first suite” “The first overture” “The festival season ” continuously and won prizes . Especially “The festival season” won the prize at the 2nd competition for Japanese composers of New Symphony Orchestra and became one of Kobune’s masterpieces.

In 1937, Kobune learned conducting under Joseph Rosenstock who was a regular conductor of New Symphony Orchestra (now NHK Symphony Orchestra) and composed “ Koto concerto” according to Rosenstock’s request.

On January 28 ,1939 , he was recommended by  Japan ?Italy institute and was welcomed as  a music ambassador  to ISMEO (The Italian Institute For The Middle and Far East ) in the Italy Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 Just after his leaving Tokyo, the news ,his work “String Quartet No.1” was selected at the International Contemporary  Music Festival,  arrived in Japan.

In Italy ,he took the course of conducting at St. Cecilia Academy in Rome and learned under Bernardine Molinari.

  In April 1939, he was invited to the 17th  International Contemporary Music Festival in Warsaw and “String Quartet No.1” was played by Poland Radio Quartet.  In June, he held ‘Evening concert of Japanese Contemporary Music’ in Poland and Finland . He conducted Poland philharmonic orchestra in Poland and Finland broadcast symphony orchestra in Finland.

 In Helsinki in Finland, he was invited by Sibelius and had a wonderful time in his house talking about  composition, conducting ,art and so on with him.

This meeting  with Sibelius gave him a big and  strong influence on his music.

After having a concert in Rome and meeting Tcherepnin again in Paris, he came back to Japan on August 11,1939.  He stayed in Europe just before the World War broke out on Septemper 1, 1939  by German invation to Poland .

  After coming back to Japan, he had the activity with YSO while conducting New Symphony Orchestra , Shochiku Orchestra and Shinkyo Orchestra in Manshu.

 After the war, he re-organized YSO with Yasojima and had the 30th concert of YSO in November ,1946.  In 1950 , YSO played Beethoven's Symphony No.9 for the first time as an amateur orchestra.

After conducting Tokyo philharmonic orchestra in 1951. he devoted mainly to the activity of YSO and the cultural development of Yokohama  

He released the Poetic Suite “ Yokohama in 1947” by the request of  Yokohama city in 1954 ,the year of the 100th anniversary of Yokohama Port Opening.

 Kojiro Kobune had built up YSO with players and conducted a lot of music in YSO and led and head the amateur orchestra in Japan . He became sick after the concert tour in Manila in 1977  and died  at the age 74 on February 17, 1982 .