Yasuo Kuwahara

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Yasuo Kuwahara

Yasuo Kuwahara (桑原 康雄, Kuwahara Yasuo) (born December 12, 1946 in Kobe, Japan; died December 6, 2003) was a Japanese mandolin player and composer for mandolin orchestra.[1][2] He was chairman of various musical institutions and organizations, including the Nara National Women's College, the Kuwahara Mandolin Institute and the Japan Association of Music Exchange.[1] In addition, he taught composition and artistic mandolin.[2]

After completing his studies with Professor Kinuko Hiruma, he became well known in Japan for his musical solo performances on the mandolin and outstanding technique.[2] He made his European debut at a Zupfmusikfestival in Mannheim in 1982, and as a result, the European plucked-stringed orchestra circles became aware of him.[1] After his performance in 1983 in Providence, USA, Yasuo Kuwahara was also known in North America.[2] After that he won increasing worldwide recognition and fame for his playing and compositions, performing in his native Japan, as well as Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Australia, Russia and the United States of America.[2] His compositions include works for the mandolin orchestra, as well as chamber ensembles and soloists.

Major works[edit]


  • Angels Move "籟動", Mandolin Concerto

Mandolin orchestra[edit]

  • Dance of Fire Festival
  • Beyond the Rainbow[3]
  • Song of the Japanese Autumn[4]
  • Novemberfest[4]
  • Railroad song[5]
  • Steamy Steaming[6]
  • Outward of Forest
  • Pear-shaped Dance
  • Within the Fence

Mandolin solo[edit]

  • Moon and Mountain Witch
  • Jongara
  • Winter Light
  • Impromptu
  • Perpetual Motion
  • Silent Door
  • Improvised Poem


Yasuo Kuwahara's expressive compositions tell stories in musical fashion.[1] The Song of Japanese Autumn describes the "struggle of peasants" in the early fall against the time when the autumn gales fall with heavy showers, and the stillness afterward when the weather calms down again at the end of the piece — all told musically with "accented rhythm", "agitated melody", tremolo and peaceful cadenza.[1]

Characteristic of Kuwahara's pieces are long traditional (for Japanese compositions) expressive tremolo passages, but he also weaved modern playing techniques into his compositions. This was taken to the extreme in his orchestral work Novemberfest, in which he integrated seven different mandolin-voice percussive effects. Instead of the mandolin's normal plucking-of-strings with a pick, or using tremolo, sound is made with fingers, knuckles or the plectrum knocked on different parts of the instrument. Yasuo Kuwahara was also known to use stylistic elements of contemporary music in his compositions, such as Minimal music.

Recordings of his compositions[edit]

  • Clicking Ecstasy by Mülheimer Zupforchester, Detlef Tewes conducting, 1998:[7]
Track 7, The Song of the Japanese Autumn: I. Andante
Track 8, The Song of the Japanese Autumn: II. Allegro non troppo
Track 9, The Song of the Japanese Autumn: III. Meno mosso
Track 10, The Song of the Japanese Autumn: IV. Allegro non troppo
Track 11, The Song of the Japanese Autumn: V. Andante


  1. ^ a b c d e "Guitar and mandolin orchestra, Samples – Yasuo Kuwahara". Guitar and Mandolin Chambre Orchestra Het Consort. Archived from the original on March 6, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Mandolinist and Composer, Yasuo Kuwahara (1946–2003)". Ensemble Philmusica. April 2004. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  3. ^ BEYOND THE RAINBOW - Yasuo Kuwahara - Orkester Mandolina Ljubljana - dirigent Andrej Zupan [BEYOND THE RAINBOW - Yasuo Kuwahara - Orchestra Mandolina Ljubljana - conductor Andrej Zupan]. Orkester Mandolina Ljubljana (Trobenta Bas on Youtube). June 15, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Videografija". Orchestra Mandolina Ljubljana. Retrieved October 17, 2015. Novemberfest - Yasuo Kuwahara...Japonske jesenske pesmi / Soshu No Uta / Songs of Japanese Autumn - Yasuo Kuwahara
  5. ^ Yasuo Kuwahara Rail Road Song. Elena Zabavskaya (elenazabavskaya on Youtube). June 3, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  6. ^ Yasuo Kuwahara, Steamy Steaming - OPG Ciudad de la Mancha (video). Jornadas de Plectro Y Guitarria de Segovia (cuerdapararato on Youtube).
  7. ^ "Clicking Ecstasy ~ Release by Mülheimer Zupforchester, Detlef Tewes". musicbrainz.org. Retrieved October 10, 2015.

See also[edit]