Margaret Mehl

Published On


Page Range

pp. 387–404


  • English

Print Length

18 pages


The Conclusion, after briefly outlining how the changes in musical culture in the 1920s made themselves felt in Sendai, returns to the larger framework, placing emergence of a new musical culture in Sendai into the context of national consolidation, as well as Japan growing importance on the international stage after the First World War. This leads back to the question posed in this introduction: what can music contribute to our understanding of history?
The case of Japan demonstrates that music and musical modernization were an integral part of Japan’s transformation towards a modern nation. As in other areas, the transformation was motivated by the need to respond to Western dominance, and inspired by Western models. Traditional genres of Japanese music flourished in the period examined, although they were, ultimately, relegated to a niche existence. Arguably, this ensured their preservation as (supposedly) unadulterated tradition. In this way, Western and indigenous music each played – and still play – their part in defining modern Japan.


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.