Teppei Yamada-Scriba, Professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, painter, inventor of a loudspeaker system for audio equipment protected by several international patents, poet-scholar, holistic thinker and pianist who does not play the piano. He was born in Tokyo in 1946.
After having written a number of critical essays, including “An Attempt to Reconstruct Friedrich Hölderlin’s Poetics”, “Heinrich Hölty’s Lyrics Without Disposition”, “The Hidden Sun in Klopstock’s Two Odes”, and others, he was nominated Professor of German Literature at Meiji University, where he now teaches Comparative Poetry and Art History. His research field explores China, Korea and Japan from the 8th to the 13th centuries, and also European art history.
He is now preparing two books: a comprehensive East-West art history, and a collaborative work with Italian poet Steven Grieco, on Japanese, Korean and Chinese poetry.
He is also a re-discoverer of the Italian Baroque Classicist painter Francesco Cozza, and a collector of this artist’s works.
Recently he turned his attention to Southeast Asian art history. Yet, he is still an admirer of the European artists: Donatello, Giorgione, Matthia Preti.
At age 4 he had to stop learning violin because of a family disaster caused by the American Occupation Army in Japan. At that time he already appreciated European classical music coming to him over a radio which had originally been installed in a German submarine. The unforgettable pieces at that time were for him César Franck’s “Psyche” conducted by Walter Goehr. This piece still lingers in his memory. Other recordings which deeply impressed him as a student include Liszt’s “Dante” Symphony conducted by George Sebastian (it is perhaps not a coincidence that these two conductors were both strongly anti-Nazi ). And later, several recordings by Mitropoulos, Freitas Branco, and the earliest grammophone recording of pianist Raoul Pugno in 1904.
Although he had all along been appreciating musical interpretations, especially of works by Liszt, not all piano recordings satisfied him, with the exception of a few pieces performed by Walter Rummel and Edith Farnadi. When he finally realized and was disappointed by the callousness of Walter Gieseking, whom he had adored since his youth, he decided to play the pieces himself, using a sequencer and synthesizer without keyboard. In 2006 he purchased a fully computer-controlled Yamaha CF3 grand piano.
One must here emphasize that programmed piano performance, as Prof Yamada understands it, means absolute freedom controlled only by the performer’s imagination. It is as difficult as driving a spaceship manually. It takes incomparably more time than playing with the hands. In the beginning, in order to complete one piece lasting 5 minutes it took more than 1,500 hours.
While the most important point with conventional pianists is to perfect the piano technique, in the case of the programmer pianist the question is how to realize in concrete form the concept in his imagination.
In order to devote himself full-time to his artistic activity, Prof Yamada is planning to retire in advance from Meiji University. His performance can be seen as a new arch added to the bridge connecting the virtual and real worlds, a connection which was already attempted by the Heian poets of 13th century Japan.
As a pianist Teppei Yamada-Scriba has neither a musical career behind him, nor any formal training in music. What he expresses is purely based on his own autodidactic experience of this art.
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