Summary Report on trip to Beijing, China
(21 May 1997 - 10 June 1997)
Meeting People: Professor Zhou Guangren
Professor Zhou Guangren with her husband, Professor Liu Shuoyong,
formerly a research librarian at the Tianjin Music Conservatory.
© EC 1997.
On asking around, I learnt that the two premiere piano professors
at the conservatory were Zhou Guangren and Li Qifang. Li Qifang left
for Shanghai to judge a piano competition the very next day after I
contacted her. So I did not have the opportunity to meet her. But I
did get together with her star pupil, Huang Yamong, a couple times for
lunch and to hear her play some Chinese piano pieces.
Professor Liang had contacted Zhou Guangren on my behalf, greatly
facilitating our meeting. Prior to our encounter, I was delighted to
find that Professor Zhou had an
entry in my recently
acquired four-volume Encyclopedia of Contemporary and Modern Chinese
Musicians edited by Xiang Tingsheng.
Zhou Guangren, pianist.
Born Ursula Chou in Hanover, Germany, and raised in Shanghai, Zhou
Guangren was the first Chinese pianist to be placed in an
international piano competition. Electing to remain in her homeland
in spite of invitations and offers to do otherwise, Zhou Guangren has
become almost a legendary name connected to piano music and music
education in China. She survived the many vicissitudes of her life:
her parents' objection to her choice of profession, her husband's
suicide during the Cultural Revolution, her hand injury while working
on the farms, a crushed hand when a piano collapsed on her. Each time
she recovered, triumphant and determined. Today, she is happily
remarried to a longtime family friend, Liu Shuoyong.
Like Mrs. Jiang, Professor Zhou welcomed me with open arms into her
home. A warm and energetic woman brimming with laughter, she looked
young and vibrant for her sixty-nine years. Like all my other
appointments, this one with her began in the morning and lasted well
past lunchtime, into the early hours of the afternoon.
Professor Zhou was tickled pink that my name sounded just like her
daughter's; she threw herself into my Chinese-French music concert
project and was soon sparking ideas for pairs of Chinese-French
pieces. Her husband, who was also present was trying to show me his
Boston Pops collection, inspired by the recording I had brought them
as a gift. They were a fun-loving couple and I observed with great
delight their playful banter with each other.
Professor Zhou and me at her home. © EC 1997.
Professor Zhou very generously gave me a couple of compact disks
featuring her playing and a large collection of Chinese piano music
books, the ones which she had bought more than one copy. The others
she lent to me to make xerox copies. Many of these scores are no
longer in print, which made her gift all the more valuable.
EC © 4 August 1997. Modified Wed Sep 10 13:12:10 EDT 1997.