Under a Beautiful Star

Guest Professor, Tokyo College of Music
(interview summary)
Raised in Greece, studied in Vienna and Paris, and fled to Berlin in WWII

   I was born on December 12, 1916, as the eldest daughter of Greek parents in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey. My father was born on the outskirts of Sparta in southern Greece, and after he was orphaned at a young age, an uncle who was a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church in Constantinople raised him. (Constantinople had formerly been the Greek City of Byzantium, and many Greeks still lived in the city. Although it was under Turkish rule, Greeks had the freedom to practice religion with few restrictions. Constantinople was also home to many French and other nationalities and had a sort of international atmosphere.)
   My mother was born to a rather wealthy family who ran a printing business and was educated at a school run by French nuns. She was very good with her hands and loved embroidery and handicrafts so when her father's business failed, she helped to support the family with her embroidery and dressmaking. That was how she met my father who was a young man in the silk and braiding business. They fell in love, married, and I was born.

Repatriation to Greece with the start of WWI, and begins piano at five

   As young married couple, my parents both worked and life was not easy. In World War I, Greece entered the war on the side of the Allies which made it an enemy of Turkey, so in 1917, my father returned to Greece ahead of the family where he prepared to set up a textile business in Salonika (Thessalonika). After Athens, Salonika is an important cultural center on the Aegean Sea.
  Several months later, my mother arrived in Salonika with me who was still a baby, and this was the start of our life in Greece. My parents worked as they had in Turkey. My father minded his shop every day and my mother went to work for a large dressmaker so I was placed in a day nursery. As it turned out, the nursery was irresponsible and I was being neglected all day. A kind woman in the neighborhood couldn't bear to see it and reprimanded my mother. My mother then quit work at the dressmaker's and set up her own business at home so she could watch me herself.
  Fortunately, customers liked her work, and her business flourished and gradually expanded. My father's textile business was doing well, too, and when I was five or six, my parents, who loved music, bought me a piano.
  In Constantinople, the priests had taught my father arithmetic and how to read and write, but besides this, he had had little formal education. Nevertheless, he was hardworking and had strong love of learning. In fact, at the time, he had started studying English so he could read Shakespeare in the original language and my mother used to tease him about it.
  This was about the time that I began taking piano lessons. My father used to tell me to apply myself seriously to the piano, and to stick with whatever I did without ever giving up.

From piano to voice

  When I was about twelve, I began taking classes at the Salonika Conservatory of Music when I didn't have school on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, and this was the start of my academic training in piano and solfege. In 1932, I was awarded first prize in the piano competition at the conservatory [Salonika Conservatory Piano Competition, but my teachers told me that voice would be a more promising field for me since my hands weren't very large. I was very interested in voice myself so I started studying vocal music secretly. This was because my father thought it was scandalous for a young, unmarried woman to sing on stage and he was very much against it. He was set in his views so I had a hard time at first, but gradually he came to accept my decision, and I was able to study vocal music under Carolina Capasso, who was the sister of the Italian consul in Salonika and had herself studied under Luisa Tetrazzini. In 1932, accompanied by my mother, I went to Vienna to study lieder under Professor Max Klein in the Vienna, Austria.
   My father died in 1936. Ever since I was a child, he had always encouraged me to study the piano seriously, and even though I switched to vocal music, I am sure that he is pleased that I have pursued music and stayed with it all these years.

Radio broadcast concerts while a student at the Conversatoire Nationale Superior de Musique in Paris

  In 1937, I went to France to continue my education and entered the Conversatoire Nationale Superior de Musique in Paris where I received training in vocal music. In 1938, at the recommendation of director of the conservatory, Henri Rabeau, I gave some radio broadcast concerts that were aired on Radio Paris, Radio Strassbourg, Radio 37 (Paris), and other stations and performed the works of Faure and Duparc. In the same year, I was awarded the first prize medal for vocalists. World War II broke out in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. The following year, I received a first certificate of merit in opera comique, second prize in vocal music and other prizes, and was awarded a special scholarship.
  In 1940, the German army penetrated the Maginot Line and started advancing toward Paris. Many people in the city fled to southern France, but I wasn't able to evacuate in time and had no choice but to remain in Paris. Director Henri Rabeau, stayed in Paris and lived on the fifth floor of the conservatory. He was determined to do whatever necessary to continue classes so the building wouldn't be requisitioned and occupied by German troops. In the department of vocal music where I studied, the renowned mezzosoprano, Claire Croiza, was only professor to remain in Paris. Besides me, two or three other students were called in to assist her and we managed to hold classes in spite of the difficult situation around us.
   I will always remember is how we were able to keep the conservatory open and carry on without any interference and how much this was due to the dedication of Director Rabeau, Professor Croiza, and others.

Paris during WWII and St. Catherine's Day

  After some time, people who had fled to southern France gradually started to return to Paris, and it was on November 15 of that year, St. Catherine's Day, that I first met the man who would become my future husband. (St. Catherine's Day is a holiday for unmarried women who have reached the age of 25, and these young women of marriageable age are called "Catherinettes.") The Catherinettes at the Conservatory were holding a party, and my husband was invited by the composer, Rokuro Kurachi who was a junior-high school friend of his and a friend of one of my classmates, Yoshiko Furusawa. My husband had graduated in political science from the Faculty of Law at Keio University and was studying at the University of Paris, but since the start of the war, he had been working part-time at the Japanese Embassy.
   In early 1942, I was chosen to be the soloist at a concert at the Chaillot Palace given by the Conservatory's symphony orchestra, but unfortunately, I fell ill and couldn't perform. I married in March, and my son, Sachio, was born in June 1943.

Paris, Berlin, and a U.S. prisoner of war

  In 1944, British and American troops landed in Normandy and were making their way to Paris. All Japanese citizens in Paris were ordered by the Japanese Embassy to evacuate to Germany. The women, children, and elderly left on the last train to Berlin. On the way, our train was bombed and fired upon by the British and Americans, but we all managed to reach our destination safely. The men left several days later in different vehicles; and all arrived in Berlin safely even though the journey had been dangerous. (My husband received a crash course in driving and drove all day and night, without stopping, from Paris to Berlin in the blackout. I had gone ahead by train with Sachio, who was a baby, and I was sick with worry as I waited for days until he arrived.)
  At the time, the Allies were bombing Berlin around the clock and the bombing was growing more intense. After a few weeks, all of us evacuated to a suburb north of Berlin, and only those who had jobs in the city could go into Berlin by microbus.
   In 1945, Berlin was under pressure from the British and American forces in the west and from the Russian troops in the east, so just before the fall of Berlin, the Japanese residents fled to the south amid gunfire. We finally reached the Badgastein, a town in the mountains south of Salzburg and now in Austria. Germany surrendered in May and we were taken as prisoners of war by the U.S. army in June.

From Le Havre to New York, Seattle and Japan

  In July, we were transported in a U.S. military transport plane from Salzburg airport to the vicinity of the port of Le Havre in France. Several days later, we left for the United States from Le Havre on the Santa Rosa. It wasn't a hospital ship, but a U.S. military transport ship full of American soldiers who were being sent to the Pacific. We were crossing the Atlantic Ocean when we heard that the Americans had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  We finally reached New York. All I could see from a porthole in the hold of the ship was the Statue of Liberty in the distance. The next day, we were taken in a specially outfitted train to the mountains of Pennsylvania where we were housed in a building that was once used as a communications school for the U.S. army. The war ended several days later on August 15.
   It was in the middle of November that we crossed the United States for Seattle, and from the port of Seattle, we sailed in another military ship along the Aleutian Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean. The weather was stormy and we finally reached in Uraga on December 5. This is how I arrived my husband's country and started my life in Japan after the war.

From『Tokyo College of Music News19』 1982 Summer issue

On Acrivy Fukuzawa's CD

Seiji Choki
  Many musicians came to Japan from abroad during a time when western music was still in its infancy here and they were responsible for a number of achievements for which we owe them an immeasurable debt. Some of the names from the prewar era to today that come to mind are the conductors Pringsheim, Rosenstock, Gururit, the pianists Kroitsa and Shirota, and the violinist, Mogirefesky. The reasons and circumstances under which they each came to Japan differed and they also had varying degrees of talent, but for the music world of Japan that was only beginning to reach maturity, they were teachers and exemplars who left us with an invaluable legacy.
  Acrivy Fukuzawa came to Japan after World War II, and while her situation was different from those of the musicians cited above, her presence is one that cannot be ignored in light of her important accomplishments in the postwar history of western music in Japan. Fukuzawa was born on December 12, 1916 in Constantinopole (Istanbul), Turkey as the eldest daughter of Greek parents. From a young age, she displayed musical talent and at the age of 11, she was awarded first prize in the Salonika Conservatory Piano Competition. She was taught voice by Carolina Capasso, a Italian teacher of vocal music, and after studying at the Lausanne Conservatory, Switzerland, she began studying lieder under Professor Max Klein in the Vienna, Austria in 1932. In 1937, Fukuzawa entered the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris where she received many awards, and at the recommendation of Director Henri Rabeau, she performed the works of Faure and Duparc in radio broadcast concerts that were aired on Radio Paris, Radio Stassbourg and other stations. She married Shintaro Fukuzawa, a student in Paris, in 1942, and came to Japan, her husband's country, after the war in 1945. After a time of confusion in the aftermath of World War II, the musical world in Japan began to recover and show signs of activity when Fukuzawa made her debut in Japan in March 1949 in the role of Eurydice in Grieg's opera, Orpheus and Eurydice with the Toho Symphony Orchestra (currently, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra) at Japan Theater in a regular concert conducted by Hidemaro Konoe. Thereafter, she gave numerous recitals, concentrating on the modern melodies francaises of Faure, Duparc, and Milhaud, some of which were considered to be contemporary music at the time. She also performed with the Konoe Symphony Orchestra in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4, and with Yoshie Fujiwara in the opera Madame Butterfly. Many of her concerts and broadcasts were the first public performances in Japan of such notable works as Le Bestiaire by Francis Poulenc (November 23, 1954), the opera L'heure Espagnole by Maurice Ravel (November 22, 1955) with the NHK Broadcast No. 2, and Benjamin Britten's Illuminations (1955). At the same time, Fukuzawa was active in performing new work by Japanese composers. Among these them, Minao Shibata's work, Kigosetsu, with Koatsue Kitazono's poetry was first performed by Fukuzawa and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of conductor Hideo Saito (May 13, 1955). The recordings of works by composers such as Faure and Debussy on this CD speak for themselves and need no further explanation. I would only urge quiet listening.

  Among Fukuzawa's many activities, her appearance in the premiere performance in Japan of Pierrot Lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg in 1954 deserves particular mention. This CD includes the first broadcast performance of this work given in Japan on August 3, 1954, but a public performance with the same members was given at a concert hosted by the Experimental Workshop at Yamaha Hall on October 9, 1954. There is not sufficient room here to discuss the Experimental Workshop, Japan's first group of artists working in diverse media that was formed in 1951 by composers, musicians, and artists working in three-dimensional expression, lighting, etc., but at that concert that was part of a Schoenberg series in which Five Pieces for Orchestra also premiered in Japan. It is an absolute joy to be able to listen to Fukuzawa's performance of sprechstimme which was still little known in Japan at the time. Listening to this recording that was orginally made for a radio broadcast prior to the concert performance, it is clear that, owing to Fukuzawa, even at the initial stage of Schoenberg's genuine reception in Japan, his work was introduced at a high level of accomplishment. Needless to say, the ensemble, composed of talented musicians, also gives an excellent performance. The conductor, Yoshiro Irino, must have been perceived as a rival presence who represented an academic approach by the composers of the Experimental Workshop, such as Toru Takemitsu and Joji Yuasa.They were not members of the so-called status quo, and who had learned the twelve-tone technique separately and by different means, but at this concert, having Irino conduct the concert seems to have been a way of paying tribute to him as one who had been instructed in the "official" twelve-tone techique of Germany and Austria. The confrontational split between the academicism of music school graduates and an oppositional nationalism that had existed since before the war was overcome through these activities of the Experimental Workshop and the 20th Century Music Institute, and this concert happens to provide evidence of this in the making. And thus, beyond being a record of a faithful performance of Schoenberg's work, this invaluable recording is one of great interest for a number of reasons.

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