The news of Andres Segoviafs concert held in May 1955 in
Osaka was published in Osaka Asahi Shinbun (newspaper) with accompanying
photographs the following day: gA 3000-strong audience was mesmerized by
an eternally young geniush. Even long after the concert ended, I was standing
in a corner of the concert hall spellbound by overwhelming emotion and
the incredible sound of the guitar still lingering in my mind. On the train
back home the next day, the residual images of Segovia steadfastly refused
to leave my head.
gGenius Segoviah, it was the genius built upon persistent
hard work. I sometimes wonder: A person regarded as a genius in whatever
field is formed by natural talent accompanied by hard work. What will be
left of a genius if hard work is left out? It is a great achievement to
get to the top in any field of work. No matter how talented the person
is, talent alone is not sufficient to accomplish it. Continuing effort
day in and day out is required. Visiting from overseas to perform on a
huge stage facing a large audience, learning by heart all the musical notes
and performing to impress the audience without a single error, all these
can be achieved by devoting an incredible amount of time and effort. I
glimpsed Segoviafs dedication and hard work when I heard him practicing
the same tune over and over for his next performance in his room soon after
the previous concert was over.
During the days of the Soviet Union a famous violinist visited
Japan to perform and surprised the Japanese officials by practicing for
7 hours every day at the hotel. I think this is nothing unusual. I know
a guitarist friend who boasted he was a genius and didnft practice at all.
I donft know anyone like him that has succeeded this way. It tells us that
a success or failure is largely determined by the personfs resolution and
hard work. And, furthermore, the important thing is his or her outstanding
quality of humanity and humility. Even if the person is talented and works
hard, a success will be difficult to achieve unless the person possesses
good character. A genius guitarist such as Segovia is an excellent and
very rare case of a person blessed with all the three qualities: genius,
hard work, and good character.
It is said that the guitar was introduced into Spain by the
Moors Before Christ. Historically, it is one of the oldest musical instruments.
It is also a solo instrument that can be performed without a support of
other instruments. Beethoven once said that the guitar is a small orchestra.
It is a famous word. It is known that among all the solo instruments the
guitar is the closest to a perfect instrument. I believe that anyone who
has a good understanding of music will agree with this.
My encounter with the guitar happened when I was in high
school. It was in about 1947, around the same time I had an encounter with
Comet Honda (1947n). As I hadnft been into astronomy at all until then,
my interest both in guitar and astronomy happened to start around the same
I was mediocre in school studies, though being able to keep
up with other students. I did not have a special aptitude for arts and
sports. I joined the schoolfs tennis club when I was in the 3rd year of
senior high school. I often played for competitions, but didnft improve
as other students did. I was a typical gordinaryh student lacking any particular
talent. The only option I had was simply to devote time and effort, working
harder than anybody else. I was a type of person who had to intensely practice,
putting in a few times more effort than others, still barely enough to
keep up with the rest of the crowd. If other students worked 3 hours a
day, I would work 6 hours, and if others put in 5 hours, I tried to compete
by spending far more than that. Partly because of a weak will I was born
with, I would often lose in competitions in spite of my hard work, unable
to apply even a half of my ability.
I remember rather fondly that late at night I used to meditate
at the cemetery of Kodakasa, a place where gghostsh were said to frequent
thus becoming a source of ghost stories. In playing the guitar, too, my
gguiding principleh was to spend a huge amount of time for practice to
keep up with others.
Inspired by a series of gHonda cometsh between 1947 and 1948,
I began comet search in 1950 lugging a comet seeker along. I didnft think
I would be able to make a discovery easily, being a person who could not
achieve much for anything. We were in the midst of uncertain world situations
with the breakout of the Korean War, but I simple tried hard. I thought
about comet search everyday; nothing else entered my mind. I was a 20-
year-old man feeling great every day. The sky over Kochi city was dark
and perfect for observing in the wake of the cityfs devastation in the
huge air raids of 1945 and the following 1946 great Nankai Earthquake.
Sluing a small 10cm comet seeker, I devoted as much time and effort to
the search as humanly possible. However, the lack of fortune I seemed to
have been born with added to the diminishing chance of success. During
the time of my comet search, I had to face competition from many other
Today, large-aperture telescopes equipped with CCDs frequently
sweep the sky. The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program
is one of them. I come across observers who feel there is no hope for visual
discoveries looking at the success by these search programs, but I donft
think it will affect the chance of visual search much. I have to admit
that the discoveries of comets by these programs near aphelion hurt the
chance of visual discovery, but no search program is perfect. There are
some comets which approach the sun from unexpected directions due to their
retrograde orbits (in reference to the earth orbit) without being noticed
and rapidly brighten. If your chance of comet discovery is once in your
lifetime opportunity, there must be a good chance of one or two discoveries.
The discovery of C/1999 N2 (Lynn) reportedly by use of handheld binoculars
is a good example of this. In my days of comet search, there was nothing
like the LINEAR program, and Leslie Peltier of the US and George Alcock
of the UK were actively searching for comets. And in Japan, of course,
Minoru Honda, the master of comet discovery was conducting successful search.
At Skalnate plesso Observatory in the former Czecho-Slovaki situated at
an ideal elevation of more than 1400 meters above sea level, Director of
the observatory Antonin Vecvar and sharp-eyed Antonin Mrkos and Ludmila
Pajdusakova were achieving a great success by searching intensely near
the sun, particularly east of it using new wide-field binocular comet seekers.
They were in a sense much stronger competitors and threat to us than the
search by todayfs LINEAR program.
What I would like to stress is we should make the utmost
effort first and plunge headlong toward the goal of discovery, not to feel
intimidated and hesitate or to engage in argument for argumentfs sake to
evade the necessity of hard work. Try to produce good results in whatever
form (an independent discovery, for example) and demonstrate your achievement
to the world. A half-hearted effort in fear of competition and constant
anxiety will not lead to success easily.
It would be fortunate for a comet hunter if the family members
and friends were sympathetic and understanding. In my days, astronomy was
not looked upon with particular favor and I did not get any understanding
or support from my parents, siblings, or neighbors. The first 10 years
of my comet search was a lonely struggle against the tide of negative attitudes
and with no financial support. The winter cold added to my misery. Although
Kochi is regarded as a warm southern country, it was quite common to experience
sub-zero temperatures. Sometimes, I had to endure the intense cold of 7
degrees below zero with my body and mind literally freezing lacking decent
heating. I also remember that, one night slipping off the roof tiles, I
fell hard on the frozen ground and lost consciousness. I am amazed at myself
withstanding all the disadvantages. All the struggles in your youth would
not bother you much. Once you succeed, the memories of all the hardships
and sadness will turn into fond memories.
Those were the days of my youth spent in searching comets.
It was the most fulfilling and happiest time of my life. Since I was brought
into this world, I want to pass on what I have achieved for the next generations.
The fire of my youthful dreams and ideals are still burning furiously in
Copyright (C) 2018 Tsutomu Seki.