Overture to the Nation of Philippines (Maligayang Simula Sa Bagong Pilipinas) by Akira Ifukube

Pinapakinggan ko ngayon itong ZYU–Akira Ifukube 90th Birthday Concert, double-CD ni Akira Ifukube, iyong sikat na composer ng music ng Godzilla. Pangwalo itong CD sa series na pinamagatang The Artistry of Akira Ifukube, na ginawa ng Japan Philharmonic Orchestra noong 2003.

Ang unang kanta sa unang CD na ito ay ang Overture to the Nation of Philippines (Obertura Festiva ‘Sa bago Filipinas’) o sa Hapon フィリピン国民に贈る祝典序曲.

Maaring isa-Pilipino ang Obertura Festiva ‘Sa bago Filipinas’ bilang ‘Maligayang Simula sa Bagong Pilipinas’ dahil ginawa ang musikang ito para ipagdiwang ang “bagong Pilipinas,” malaya sa pamumuno ng Western colonial powers.

May interesting na kuwento kung paano ginawa ang composition na ito, sa gitna ng World War II at “panahon ng Hapon” sa Pilipinas. Iningles ko mula sa original na Japanese mula Youtube channel ng Classical Ongaku Lovers.

Akira Ifukube: Overture to the Nation of Philippines (1944)

The title of this work at the time of its premiere was “Overture to the Filipino People,” and its birth was closely related to the political situation during the “Greater East Asia War.”

On December 8, 1941, Japan declared war on the Allied Forces, including the U.S. and one of the war’s main objectives was to return the Asian region, which had long been colonized by the Western powers, to Asian people. This naturally had to mean the independence of the Asian peoples with Japan’s help. The Japanese leadership, which had been in confusion from the beginning of the war and lacked a long-term vision, did not know exactly how much of this cause was real and how much was a front, but of course the Asian nations were demanding that Japan follow through on its slogan.

In August 1943, the Tojo Cabinet approved the “independence” of Burma, a former British colony, and the Philippines, a former American colony, both of which had been “liberated” by the Japanese, thus making Burma and the Philippines allies of Japan in the “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.”

Representatives from Manchuria, Thailand, the government in exile in China, the government in exile in India, and the newly independent states of Burma and the Philippines gathered in Tokyo in November of the same year, and declared the coexistence and co-prosperity of Asia, the elimination of racial discrimination, and the overthrow of colonialism. However, Indonesia, which like Burma and the Philippines wished to become “independent,” was not recognized at this stage, because it produced oil and other important resources for Japan’s war effort, and therefore needed to be placed under Japan’s strict control.

In any case, with the birth of Japan’s new “friends,” the Japanese government immediately organized an event to present Burma and the Philippines with music to celebrate their independence, and the composers who were given the honor of being selected were Akira Ifukube for the Philippines and Shiro Fukai for Burma. At that time, the Japanese composing world was in the midst of what might be called an “Asian boom,” with many works inspired by Asian folk music, including Fukai’s “Songs of Java,” Hayasaka Fumio’s “Oriental Picture Scroll,” Kami Kyosuke’s “Borneo,” Ito Noboru’s “Shonanjima,” Takagi Toroku’s “Southern Suite,” Ohki Masao’s “Mongolia,” Watanabe Urado’s “Manchu Festival,” and Ohta Tadashi’s “Botangiang Suite.”

In the midst of the “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Bloc,” Fukai wrote “Burmese Celebration Music” and Ifukube wrote “Overture to the Filipino People,” both of which were performed on January 30, 1944 at Hibiya Public Hall in the presence of Japanese, Burmese, and Filipino government officials.

After that, the scores of both pieces were supposed to have gone to Burma and the Philippines, but their whereabouts were unknown for a long time after the war. In 2002, however, the complete score and parts for Ifukube’s piece and only the parts for Fukai’s were discovered in Tokyo. They were found among the belongings of violinist Kyoko Sakon’s father, who had been laid to rest in his home, along with the score of a song that Yuji Koseki had written for “Independent Burma.”

The details of why they were there are unknown, but by analogy from the fragmentary information we have, we can assume that Tameyuki Sonobe, one of the musicians involved in the “Southern Culture Project” during the war, somehow kept the scores of Ifukube, Fukai, and Koseki in his possession, and after the war, for some reason, he wanted to leave them to someone else, and that Kyoko Sakon, who had been friends with Sonobe, had given them to him. It seems that Sonobe and his father (a violinist), both of whom had been friends with Sonobe, passed away and never heard from them again.

The piece is in three parts in ABA, A being Allegro rhapsodico. As indicated, the piece is extremely rhapsodic, and perhaps due to the impression of Poulenc’s “Concerto for Two Pianos,” the musical ideas fly one after another over the gamelan- and Southeast Asian-style soundscape woven mainly by the two pianos. The B is an Andante mysterioso, a piece that was intended to be a southern-style nocturne. The whole piece is very similar to the “Concerto Style Symphony for Piano and Strings” of 1941 in terms of musical scheme, style, and detailing.

Nandito ang Youtube version: