Wang Jianzhong (born 1933) is a Chinese composer, pianist, and educator. His works, many of them composed during the Cultural Revolution, bridge Chinese folk music and Western classical piano tradition and have made him a household name in his own country. His A Hundred Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix is considered one of the six representative twentieth-century Chinese piano masterpieces.
Wang was born in Shanghai in 1933. His parents were from Jiangyin and Zhejiang Province. He began his piano study at the age of 10. In 1950, he was accepted into the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he majored in composition and piano. In 1958, after his graduation, he became a professor at the conservatory. During the 1970s he served as the composer-in-residence for the Central Philharmonic Orchestra. He returned to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1980s where he served as an associate professor, professor, associate chair, and associate dean. Among his students there were the pianists Peng-Peng Gong and Jenny Q. Chai and the composer Bright Sheng.
Wang composed a large body of works for piano based on themes from Chinese folk music during the 1960s and 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution forbade compositions which were not based on either traditional Chinese folk melodies or revolutionary songs. Towards the end of that period, the restrictions became slightly more relaxed, and Wang, like his contemporary Li Yinghai, began to base his compositions on Chinese court music as well. The popularity of Wang’s compositions continued after the bans on contemporary and Western music were lifted at the end of the Cultural Revolution. According to China Daily, his works are valued for the insight they provide into “the dilemma faced by Wang’s generation of Chinese composers during a time of great social turmoil.”
Original audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFny43FB3Jw
Original sheet music: en.scorser.com
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