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A musical rarity and rare autographs of the great soprano who died very

Two letters and musical folio
1) An original manuscript, a letter dated 8th May 1928. 18cm. x 13cm. 3
pages, one blank. Written and signed by the young Japanese soprano
and composer Sekiya Toshiko ( 1904-1941), written in Italian
and addressed to 'Maestro' who we know with certainty is the Piedmont
Composer from Bra, Adolfo Gandino.

The text reads:

Dear and excellent Signor Maestro,
Thank you very much for the many courtesies that were continually
extended to me in the USA.
I am very sorry I am not able to express myself as well as I would like to
in Italian as I am able to in Japanese; which I know.
My father is extraordinarily pleased and joins me in thanking you with all
my heart.
I received the papers, many thanks!
I am painfully sorry I cannot accept the invite to Spain.

I still hope to come to Bologna soon. However, I will not be free before
(the beginning of) next month. My extended greetings to all my friends in
Bologna, especially the President of the Philharmonic.
Thanking you very much again, believe me I am much obliged
Toshiko Sekiya
Via (Giovanni) Boccaccio 11, Milano.
The letter is also signed (Sekiya Toshiko) in Japanese.
Perfectly preserved.

1) Lettera originale manoscritta datata 8 Maggio 1928, di cm. 18 x 13,

pagine 2 + 1 bianca. Tutta scritta e autografa dalla giovane cantante
(soprano) e compositrice Giapponese Toshiko Sekiya (1904 - 1941),
scritta in Italiano e diretta al 'Maestro' (si tratta, lo sappiamo con
certezza, del compositore Piemontese Adolfo Gandino). Il testo recita:
Gentilissimo e bravissimo Sig. Maestro,
La ringrazio infinitamente per le mille cortesie che di continuo mi USA.
Sono molto dispiacente di non essere in grado di esprimermi in Italiano
come vorrei e saprei fare in Giapponese.
Anche mio padre e' straordinariamente contento e si unisce a me nel
ringraziarla con tutto il cuore. Ho ricevuto i giornali, mille grazie!, m'e'
dispiaciuto di non poter accettare l'invitoin Spagna.
Fra poco mi auguro di poter ancora venire a Bologna. Comunque non
saro' libera prima (principio) del prossimo mese.
Mi saluti tanto gli amici tutti di Bologna, specialmente il Presidente della
Ringraziandola di nuovo profondamente mi creda la sua obbligatissima
Toshiko Sekiya
Via Boccaccio 11 Milano.

Segue una frase scritta in Giapponese. Perfettamente conservata.

2) An original printed musical folio completed by hand in Tky and
dated 21st April 1938. 27 cm x 19 cm. This very rare object consists of
the words and music for 'Maison Italienne a' Tky' (
) which was composed by Sekiya Toshiko ( 19041941) with a libretto by Baron kura Kishichir (, 18821963) to welcome the Maestro Adolfo Gandino to Japan. The text is in
Japanese and Italian (with some very nice unintentional grammatical
howlers). Perfectly preserved.
Sig. Kishichiro Okura

kura Kishichir (Baron)
21/4/1938 Tokio

Toshiko Sekiya

Mrs. Sekiya Toshiko

2) Foglio originale a stampa e compilato a mano datato Tky Aprile

1928, di cm. 27 x 19, 8. Il rarissimo oggetto contiene le parole e la
musica, composte per la 'Maison Italienne a' Tky' dalla stessa Toshiko
Sekiya (parole di Kishichir kura), per il benvenuto fatto dal Giappone
al maestro Adolfo Gandino. Testo in Giapponese e Italiano (con
strafalcioni grammaticali molto simpatici quanto involontari).
Perfettamente conservato.
Rarita' musicale, rarissimi sono poi gli autografi di questa grande
soprano morta giovanissima.
3) Letter
An original manuscript, a letter dated 29th June 1928. 17, 8 x 13 cm. 3
pages. Written and signed by the young Japanese soprano and
composer Sekiya Toshiko ( 1904-1941). Written in Italian and
addressed to the 'Maestro' who we know with certainty is the Piedmont
Composer from Bra, Adolfo Gandino.

The text reads:

Dear and excellent Signor Maestro,
How are you Maestro?
I'm always very well and study with great passion. I have now moved to
the home of the Cortella family at Via Rasori 2, Milan. It is a
distinguished family and I am so very fortunate. Forgive me for not
having written for such a long time. I have been very busy. Happily my
concert in Genoa was a completely successful evening. Please be
happy at my good news. I have now sent the papers from Genoa.

Please write to me with your news. Many, many greetings to you from
my father.
Many dear greetings to your family.
(Yours) Faithfully
Toshiko Sekiya
Via (Giovanni) Rasori 2, Milan
Perfectly preserved.

Lettera originale manoscritta datata 29 Giugno 1928, di cm. 17, 8 x 13,

pagine 3. Tutta scritta e autografa dalla giovane cantante (soprano) e
compositrice Giapponese Toshiko Sekiya (1904 - 1941), scritta in
Italiano e diretta al 'Maestro' (si tratta, lo sappiamo con certezza, del
compositore Piemontese Adolfo Gandino). Il testo recita:
Gentilissimo e bravissimo Sig. Maestro,
Come sta lei Maestro? Io sto tanto bene e studio sempre con gran
passione. Adesso io ho cambiato la casa in Via Rasori 2 Milano presso
famiglia Cortella.
E' una distinta famiglia e io mi trovo tanto bene.
Scusi tanto che io non le ho scritto da tanto tempo. Io avevo tanto da
Fortunatamente il mio concerto di genova era proprio una serata
La prego di contentarsi per la mia buona notizia. Adesso io le ho
mandato i giornali di genova.
La prego di scrivermi per la sua notizia.
Tante cose, tanti saluti a lei dal mio padre.
Tanti saluti caramente per la sua famiglia.

Toshiko Sekiya
Via Rasori 2 Milano.
Perfettamente conservata.

Rarita' musicale, rarissimi sono poi gli autografi di questa grande

soprano morta giovanissima.
--Sekiya Toshiko ( 1904 - 1941)

Sekiya Toshiko was born on the 12th March 1904. Her father was the
businessman Sekiya Ynosuke () and her mother was
LeGendre Aiko (). Her uncle was the famous Kabuki
actor Ichimura Uzaemon XV (), her maternal
grandfather was the American Foreign Policy Advisor to Japan Charles
LeGendre () and her grandmother was Ikeda
Ito (), the illegitimate daughter of the Daimyo Matsudaira
Yoshinaga ().

Sekiya Aiko (, LeGendre Aiko ) with her husband the businessman Sekiya
Ynosuke () and their daughter Sekiya Toshiko ()

She was enrolled at the Ochanomizu University Elementary School

where in 1912 whilst in the third grade she sang, as a soloist, Haru ga
Kita ( - Spring has come) and Fuji no Yama ( Mt.
Fuji) in front of the Empress Dowager Shken (). In 1914
after studying with the singer Miura Tamaki () she sang in a recital
a solo of Antonio Lottis Pur dicesti, o bocca bella (Your beautiful lips) in
Italian and was reported the following day in the Miyako Shimbun
newspaper as a genius child singer. At Miuras recommendation she
went to study singing with the Adolfo Sarcoli, a Siennese musician who
had settled in Japan. In 1921 she went to study at the Tky School of
Music the curriculum of which was based on German music theory
against which she rebelled dropping out to again study with Sarcoli. In
1927 she went to Italy to study at the University of Bologna and in 1928
was the first Japanese citizen to be awarded a Special Diploma by the
Royal Philharmonic Academy of Bologna. Under the tutelage of the
Italian soprano Rosina Storchio she successfully auditioned for and
joined La Scala, Milan, as a lead soprano. At the time she received
requests to tour Germany and the USA and after her tours returned
home in 1929.
She spoke four languages other than her native Japanese; English,
Italian, French and Spanish.
In 1930 she starred alongside the Japanese Tenor Yoshie Fujiwara (
) in La Traviata ().
On the 1st October 1930 the film Komoriuta (: Lullaby), directed
by Suzuki Shigeyoshi (), was released by Empire Kinema
Entertainment (). Sekiya Toshiko starred as Ono Michiko
() alongside her sister Sekiya Kimiko () who
played the role of Seina (). It also starred Matsumoto Taisuke (
) as Keisuke Shingji () and Nakano Eiji () as
Izumikawa (). It premiered at the Asakusa Shochikuza Theatre (
) and was Japans first East Phone film style talkie (
She then went on to tour Europe and the USA which included a recital
by her at the Hollywood Bowl La Fiesta programme in September 1931.
During her tour she began to write her opera O-Natsu Kyran (
: Summer Madness) which premiered at the Paris Opera in 1933.

After four years away in April 1934 she returned home on the ship the
Terukuni Maru (). At the time she commented that she was glad
to be going home but had left Opera in Europe in an uncertain state. She
stopped off in Singapore to give a recital which took place on the 5th April
1934 at the Memorial Hall.

O-Natsu Kyran was then premiered in Japan in 1934 at the Kabukiza

Theatre (). In 1937 she married Yagy Gor () (the
Yagy Ry style swordsmanship instructor to the son of Yagyu Shuneki
() the last Lord of the Yag Clan from Yamato Province) but
divorced 4 years later.
On November 7th 1941 the Soviet spy Richard Sorge (
), and a Japanese accomplice Ozaki Hotsumi () were
arrested for espionage in Sugamo Prison (). Though her
sister Kimiko always denied her sisters involvement in the Sorge Affair,
Toshiko, who had also been under investigation and who it was
rumoured was one of Sorges mistresses, committed suicide on the 23rd
of the same month, overdosing on sleeping pills. Toshikos suicide note
which was written on the back of a sheet of music which she had
composed called Noibara or Field of Thorns
Even if at the age of thirty-eight I, Sekiya Toshiko, am scattered like
fragrant cherry blossoms I realise that I will not be lost forever. With
sincerity I will keep Toshikos honour safe for eternity, year after year for
a million years the world will know how, in this, I demonstrated the purity
of my heart, thoughtfully done to protect the dignity of the arts of greater
Japan. Sekiya Toshiko, suicide note

However it was reported in The Hawaii Mainichi that she had hung

She is buried in Sojiji Temple in Yokohama. In 1987 the Japanese

company Victor Entertainment digitised a selection of her songs
including Yoimachigusa (: Evening Primrose), Kj no Tsuki (
: The Moon over the Ruined Castle), Noibara (: Field of
Thorns), and others

Sekiya Toshiko in Digital ()

kura Kishichir (Baron, 1882-1963)

The Tokyo Symphony Orchestrawas

based at the Imperial Hotel which had been founded by his father kura
Kihachir ( 1837-1928). He was the patron of the Operatic
Tenor Fujiwara Yoshie ( 1898-1976)
Piedmont Composer Adolfo Gandino (1878-1940)

Adolfo Gandino, was born in Bra, Piedmont, Italy, on 29th July 1878.
Adolfo Gandino was the son of Giovanni Battista Gandino, who was
among the most celebrated Latin scholars of all time. He moved with his
family to Bologna, where his father taught Latin literature at the
prestigious University. It was in this atmosphere of an extraordinary
cultural milieu (colleagues and friends of his father were Carducci,
Giovanni Pascoli, Tullio Murri and other celebrities, as well as the
archaeologist Edoardo Brizio from Bra) that Adolfo Gandino grew up and
studied, showing a singular talent for music, though not at the expense
of the humanities, and he went on to achieve a law degree. The
enthusiastic musical life of the Bolognese and the presence of
distinguished teachers in the music school enabled his creativity and
supported his intense studying. Under the guidance of Bruno Mugellini
and Caesar Dall'Olio, but above all by Giuseppe Martucci, he quickly
completed his academic studies whilst still young and received a
diploma in composition. He continued his training in Italy and abroad
with other famous teachers such as Massenet and Rimsky-Korsakov.

He lived mainly in Bologna, but always remembered Bra with

affectionate nostalgia, visiting often during the holidays.
He had a great deal of luck, lived a peaceful life and was very
industrious. He dedicated himself to the development of musical
activities in Bologna, and to supporting and guiding younger colleagues
in their careers. Friendly, modest and selfless, he didnt work to promote
himself and his work nor did he seek honours or awards.
However, he was highly valued and won the esteem and admiration of
colleagues and critics alike, as well as the public of Bologna who loved
him. He won unremitting success in the numerous performances of his
He died suddenly June 7, 1940, at the height of his creativity.
After his death on the eve of the war, his work remained largely unpromoted and his productions largely unappreciated. He was, however,
remembered fondly by Cesare Valabrega and his work is recorded in the
musical archives of the State Record Library. The citizens of Bra
continue to promote opera and concert events and have never forgotten
this illustrious and devoted citizen.
Adolfo Gandino nacque a Bra il 29 luglio 1878.
Figlio di Giovanni Battista Gandino, che fu tra i pi celebri latinisti di ogni
tempo, segu giovanissimo la famiglia a Bologna, ove il padre insegnava
letteratura latina allUniversit, a quellepoca tra le pi prestigiose.
In unatmosfera di altissimo livello culturale (basti ricordare che erano
colleghi e amici del padre Giosu Carducci, Giovanni Pascoli, Tullio
Murri ed altre celebrit, tra le quali anche larcheologo
braidese Edoardo Brizio) Adolfo Gandino crebbe e studi, dimostrando
singolare talento musicale, ma non trascurando gli studi umanistici, tanto
da conseguire anche la laurea in giurisprudenza.
Lintensa vita musicale bolognese, e la presenza di illustri docenti in quel
liceo musicale gli consentirono di offrire ad un fervido estro creativo il
supporto di studi profondi. Sotto la guida di Bruno Mugellini e Cesare
DallOlio, ma soprattutto di Giuseppe Martucci, egli complet
rapidamente liter scolastico e consegu giovanissimo il diploma in

composizione, perfezionandosi poi in Italia e allestero presso altri

famosi docenti (Massenet, Rimsky-Korsakow).
Dimor prevalentemente a Bologna, ricordando sempre Bra con
affettuosa nostalgia, e tornandovi spesso nei periodi di riposo.
Dotato di cospicui beni di fortuna, visse serenamente ed operosamente,
dedicandosi anche allo sviluppo delle attivit musicali in Bologna, ed
aiutando giovani colleghi ad affermarsi. Di carattere cordiale, modesto
ed altruista, non si adoper per la diffusione ed il successo della propria
produzione, n cerc onori o riconoscimenti.
Il suo effettivo valore gli procur tuttavia la stima e lammirazione di
colleghi e critici, e del pubblico bolognese che lo am e decret
incontrastato successo a tutte le numerose esecuzioni dei suoi lavori.
Mor improvvisamente il 7 giugno 1940, ancora nel pieno dellattivit
Dopo la morte, avvenuta tra laltro alla vigilia del conflitto mondiale, poco
fu fatto per diffondere e far apprezzare la di lui produzione, se si eccettui
un affettuoso ricordo di Cesare Valabrega nella Storia della Musica in
dischi prodotta dalla Discoteca di Stato, ed alcune manifestazioni liriche
e concertistiche promosse dalla citt di Bra, che non ha mai dimenticato
lillustre e devoto concittadino.

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