Margaret Mehl

Published On


Page Range

pp. 293–344


  • English

Print Length

52 pages

10. Foreign Actors: Kate I. Hansen

Chapter 10, ‘Foreign Actors: Kate I. Hansen’ discusses the role of foreign actors is discussed in. Hansen was both typical and unique. Missionaries in general played an important role in education and in introducing musical education; at the very least they taught hymns. Unlike most of them, however, Hansen had professional training as a musician. She continued her training during her furloughs, and in 1930 she even received an honorary doctorate from Chicago Musical College (now part of Chicago College of Performing Arts). Hansen spent most of her working life in Sendai (from 1907 to 1941 and again from 1946 to 1951), where she was instrumental in building a music department at Miyagi School for Girls (now Miyagi College) that offered training at conservatoire level at a time when few schools outside Tokyo did so. None of the foreign teachers at the Tokyo Academy of Music stayed in Japan for so long. Hansen was, moreover, an astute observer of musical life, and her detailed descriptions of local concerts as well as of the methods she developed in order to teach her students Western-style singing give us unique insights into the changing musical landscape. As well as highlighting the contribution of the most significant foreign actor to the dissemination of Western music in northern Japan, this chapter sheds light on local musical activities from a different perspective than in the other two chapters, which are based on Japanese sources.


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.