Frances Kenyon Watson

Research Interests

I specialise in the study of music of the Western Classical tradition composed by Japanese musicians.  I am especially interested in how these composers explore and express their identities, particularly as Japanese citizens, through such music.

My previous work in this area has included a study of atomic bomb music (genbaku ongaku), and an analysis of musical responses to the Tôhoku Earthquake of 2011 (with particular reference to Hosokawa Toshio’s Threnody).

Research tangents include the history and translation of modern Japanese poetry and the nature of meaning in music.

Area of proposed thesis

The songs of Yamada Kôsaku in the early 1920s, particularly those composed in collaboration with the poet Kitahara Hakushû and published through the journal “Poetry and Music” (Shi to ongaku).  Their representation of the modern in Taishô-era Japan (1912-26) through the pursuit of unity (yûgô) in form and content, and their relationship to the Austro-Germanic lieder tradition.


  • Arts & Humanities Research Council Studentship
  • St Catz Allen Senior Music Scholarship
  • JSPS Short-Term Fellowship for Research in Japan

Subjects Taught

  • Musical Thought and Scholarship (Michaelmas 2016).