Since its beginnings in the 1930s, Chinese piano music has grown
and blossomed into a genre with its own history and unique character.
The early Chinese composers, returning from the conservatories of
Europe and Russia, drew inspiration from the numerous folk sources of
China, as well as their foreign schools, to create a new and
nationalistic class of music. As in other fields of art, the Cultural
Revolution dealt a heavy blow to the members of this movement. But
their momentum continued and has since picked up speed.
More than half a century later, anthologies of pieces have been
compiled and essays written about the composers of Chinese piano
music. Unfortunately, most of this material is not available outside
of China, and the literature is in Chinese. Much of the music, once
published, are now out of print and hard to find. Only a select few
pieces have been reprinted in new collections.
After a visit to Shanghai when I collected some Chinese piano
pieces, I presented a
concert of Chinese
and Russian piano music at MIT in April of 1996. I quickly realized
that my collection of Chinese piano music was far from complete and I
knew next to nothing about the pieces or their composers.
My goals for this trip to Beijing, China, were twofold. I wanted
to establish contact with musicians and scholars in the field of
contemporary Chinese piano music; and, I wanted to collect music
scores, recordings and literature on this genre.