University Organist David Yearsley looks back on the history of the organ and on Munetaka Yokota’s organ-building career:
The history of the organ in broadest outline has it that the instrument, in a form much smaller than that of so many of the massive models found in churches, was invented in the Mediterranean world of the 3rd century BCE. After the fall of Rome it was cultivated only in the Byzantine Empire, but was re-introduced into the West by means of a gift brought by a diplomatic mission from Constantinople to the Frankish court of Pippin the Great in 757. In this sense the organ’s survival can be attributed to the East, however contested or illusory the divide between Occident and Orient may be.
There is an appealing symmetry in the fact that one of the greatest present-day masters of the revivified art of organ building as it flourished so radiantly in northern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries a millennium after the arrival of those Byzantine ambassadors comes from the Orient, far beyond Istanbul. It doesn’t get much more East than Tokyo. Full Story