Trained at the Peers School and Tokyo Imperial University, Hidemaro Konoye was one of the top orchestral conductors in Japan during the early twentieth century. Today he is remembered for a single groundbreaking recording, of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 done in 1930, but in the third and fourth decades of this century he was guest conductor in America as well as Europe.
A student of the violin as well as conducting, Konoye visited Paris in 1923 where he studied with Vincent d'Indy, and later trained with Max Von Schillings, Erich Kleiber, and Karl Muck. He co-founded the Japan Symphonic Association in 1925, and the following year became conductor of the orchestra. Konoye later founded the New Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo, and through his hard work helped mold the orchestra over a ten-year period into an ensemble that could compete with many of the better orchestras in Europe. Additionally, Konoye made extensive guest appearances in Europe and America, conducting some 90 different orchestras in the course of his career.
On May 28 and 29, 1930, Konoye and his orchestra went into the studios of the Parlophone label in Tokyo and made the first recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 4, and only the second recording in history of a complete Mahler symphony. Although the piece was cut slightly, and the playing of the final movement is rather slower than audiences are accustomed to, this groundbreaking work has held up well in a historical context, and has been reissued on compact disc in the 1990s.