Etenraku (Ancient Japanese court dance and music) (越天楽)

"Etenraku" is a piece of gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music). It is the most famous among gagaku musical works. It is played mainly by eight kinds of musical instruments. The music instruments are divided into parts of winds, strings, and percussions.

The second kanji letter "天" of the name Etenraku (越天楽) is sometimes replaced by "殿." Etenraku is said to have been composed by Chinese Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty.

Versions of etenraku with lyrics attached thereto are called "imayo" (popular style of song in Heian period) and the most famous among them is "Kuroda-bushi" (Song of Kuroda), which is often played in wedding receptions in Japan. "Toyosaka no mai" as well as "Urayasu no mai" often presented to gods by miko (shrine maidens) may be regarded as modern versions of imayo Etenraku.

The orchestral version arranged by Hidemaro KONOE (in 1931) is famous and was often covered by Leopold STOKOWSKI.

In "Theme and Variation of Etenraku in Banshikicho Mode for Piano and Orchestra" arranged by Yoritsune MATSUDAIRA (in 1951), the melody line of Etenraku was used in Banshikicho mode which is different from "Hyo-jo" (a basic mode) while attempts for fusion with dodecaphony, Twelve-tone technique and with boogie-woogie are observed.

The piece, which was played by the conductor Herbert von KARAJAN with piano solo played by Yvonne LORIOD, has received a high evaluation internationally.

Although a piece of ballet music titled "Orchestral dance music Etenraku" is included in works composed by Akira IFUKUBE, it was produced as his own original work.

[Original Japanese]