The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The music of Beethoven played a major role in modern China. Here’s how | September 3, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

If you think classical music has lost much of its relevance in modern times, you might want to read or listen to this terrific interview about the importance of Ludwig van Beethoven in modern China.

Below is a photo of the first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the “Choral” Symphony with the famous “Ode to Joy,” done in 1959 by an all-Chinese orchestra with Chinese singers and sung in Mandarin.

Plus, a radio broadcast of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony also played a major role in modern China following the Cultural Revolution.

Beethoven in China 1959

The interview, with two native Chinese musicians who now teach at Stanford University. was done by NPR or National Public Radio, for its Deceptive Cadence blog. The Ear found it both eye-opening and inspiring.

Perhaps it even helps to explain why these days classical music often seems more vital to the East than it does to the West.


1 Comment »

  1. One of the problems with this type of article and your column too is that it equates classical music with one person, Beethoven.

    Of course, Beethoven is important!

    But interestingly in the article quoted, the 1911 concert program in China shows only 1 movement of a Beethoven piece (“Eroica”) being played but it has a whole half of the program devoted to Franz Liszt’s music.

    It’s nice that China appreciates classical music but that doesn’t mean just Beethoven. And one should note (as neither the linked article nor you column does) that China has its own traditions of music and that quite often, themes and songs have been used by various composers who are considered classical music composers and others based on folk music but performed in a “classical music” style.

    Here, for instance, is a YouTube performance by the superb Shanghai Quartet featuring traditional Chinese music and folk songs.

    Comment by fflambeau — September 3, 2016 @ 5:15 am

Leave a Reply to fflambeau Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,235 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,181,649 hits
%d bloggers like this: