A world-renowned violist gave Emperor Naruhito the gift of music to mark his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, saying he hopes the viola enthusiast will enjoy playing the Reiwa-themed piece.

Toshiyuki Uzuka, a 79-year-old professor emeritus of the Tokyo College of Music, has been giving Naruhito viola lessons for about 40 years. The CD features the piece titled "Kagayakeru ‘Reiwa’ ni Mukai” (toward a brilliant “Reiwa”), which lasts about 1 minute, 30 seconds. Uzuka also presented the musical score.

Uzuka, who arranged the music when composing it so that Naruhito can easily move his fingers while performing, surprised him with the gift on April 20, in the hope that Naruhito continues to communicate with people around the world during the Reiwa Era (2019-present) through his viola skills and interests.

Uzuka said that Naruhito had accepted the CD with a smile, saying, "I'm delighted."

While a student at Gakushuin University, Naruhito was a member of a music club orchestra and continued to play the viola after graduating. During an official visit to Mongolia in 2007, he played the instrument along with a local orchestra.

Naruhito also performed in 2013 at a regular concert of the Gakushuin alumni orchestra, using a viola that was made from a piece of wooden debris washed up by tsunami triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Naruhito has been making intense efforts to learn to play the stringed instrument. He practiced it over and over again, asking Uzuka, "Can I try it one more time?"

He also wrote letters to the violist, asking him about finger movements.

Uzaka said Naruhito had showed him after a lesson a musical score for the symphony "Harold in Italy," composed by the 19th-century French composer Hector Berlioz, adding, "I'm eager to play part of the main theme of the music. I love it."

Naruhito indicated to Uzuka that he wanted to be ready to play the viola before an audience, should any opportunity arise following his accession.

Naruhito's music pals are also looking forward to performing with him.

Toshio Shiraishi, 58, a member of the Azusa chamber music orchestra, which was formed by Naruhito's music associates in 1987 and headed by him, said, "He is a genius at considering other people's feelings."

Shiraishi, who is also a graduate of Gakushuin University and two years Naruhito's junior, also said that when someone participates in a practice for the first time, Naruhito proactively approaches them for a quiet conversation with the new face.

During a party after a wedding reception for one of his music associates from his college days, Naruhito performed a cappella, singing "Hamabe no uta" (beach song), a well-known Japanese piece.

Naruhito's orchestra has been on a performance hiatus since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Shiraishi added, "I hope we can have an opportunity to perform music together again someday."

(This article was written by Yudai Ogata and Akiko Tada.)