Music and the Making of Modern Japan: Joining the Global Concert - cover image


Margaret Mehl

Published On





  • English

Print Length

470 pages (xvi+456)


Paperback156 x 25 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.98" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 25 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.98" x 9.21")


Paperback658g (23.21oz)
Hardback836g (29.49oz)



OCLC Number



  • AVLA
  • AGA
  • ABA
  • AVM


  • 1FPJ
  • HBJF
  • AVA
  • AVH
  • HBTB


  • MUS020000
  • MUS023000
  • MUS038000
  • POL038000
  • SOC026000


  • Japan in the 1870s-early 1920s
  • Western powers
  • Music
  • Modernization
  • Globalization
  • Traditional Japanese music

Music and the Making of Modern Japan

Joining the Global Concert

Japan was the first non-Western nation to compete with the Western powers at their own game. The country’s rise to a major player on the stage of Western music has been equally spectacular. The connection between these two developments, however, has never been explored.

How did making music make Japan modern? How did Japan make music that originated in Europe its own? And what happened to Japan’s traditional music in the process? Music and the Making of Modern Japan answers these questions. Discussing musical modernization in the context of globalization and nation-building, Margaret Mehl argues that, far from being a side-show, music was part of the action on centre stage. Making music became an important vehicle for empowering the people of Japan to join in the shaping of the modern world.

In only fifty years, from the 1870s to the early 1920s, Japanese people laid the foundations for the country’s post-war rise as a musical as well as an economic power. Meanwhile, new types of popular song, fuelled by the growing global record industry, successfully blended inspiration from the West with musical characteristics perceived as Japanese.

Music and the Making of Modern Japan represents a fresh contribution to historical research on making music as a major cultural, social, and political force.


Margaret Mehl

Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen

Margaret Mehl is a historian of modern Japan with a special interest in musical culture. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, having previously held appointments at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Stirling, and Berlin. As well as a doctorate from the University of Bonn, Margaret Mehl holds a Dr. Phil. (Habilitation) from the University of Copenhagen. She has lived and worked in Japan as a researcher on several occasions, where she has had affiliations with the University of Tokyo, and with Waseda University. Margaret Mehl has published widely on the history of historiography, education, and music in modern Japan. Her previous books include History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan (which has been translated into Japanese), Private Academies of Chinese Learning in Meiji Japan: The Decline and Transformation of the Kangaku Juku, and Not by Love Alone: The Violin in Japan, 1850–2010. When she is not reading, writing or teaching, Margaret Mehl enjoys playing her violin and has performed in amateur orchestras and chamber ensembles in several countries.