The orchestral piece New Raiment of Rainbow and Feather Dance, composed by Xiao Youmei in 1923 and Nostalgia, Huang Zi's graduation composition when he was studying in America in 1929, are regarded as the original Chinese symphonic music creations.
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Following these, the representative works of Chinese symphonic Music in the First half of the 20th century are generally considered to be Metropolitan Fantasy by Huang Zi, Taiwan Dance composed by Jiang Wenye in his early days, the modern orchestral piece Confucius' Shrine created between 1938-1940 period, He Luding's orchestral pieces Great World and Night Flute in the Wild Hills, Ma Sicong's First Symphony, the passages "Morning'' and Worship from the opera Zheng Chenggong by Zheng Zhisheng, Xian Xinghai's National Liberation Symphony and the New China Suite, written by Ding Shande on the eve of National liberation.
In the period 1949-1956, there was a flurry of creation in the field of Symphonic music. Among the most outstanding works were Ding Shande's Xinjiang Dance, Wang Yunjie's First Symphony, Ge Yan's Horse-Drived Cart, Jiang Wenye's Minor Symphony and Deep Flows the Miluo River, Ma Sicong's Song of the Wooded Mountains, Li Huanzhi's Spring Festival Suite, Shi Yongkang's Story of the Yellow Crane, Dance of the Yao People by Liu Tieshan and Mao Ruan, and Wang Yiping's Martial Dance. In these works, folk and mythological elements are prominent, the musical vocabulary is often directly connected with that of folk tunes, and the overall style is one of lyricism, color and folkloric. The esthetic conception is programmatic.
From 1957 to 1962, symphonic creation became even brisker. According to incomplete statistics, more than 80 such works were performed in public and published, of which the most influential and successful was the violin concerto Liang Zhu. Other works of this period were Ding Shande's Long March Symphony, Wang Yunjie's second symphony, known as The Anti-Japanese War, Xin Huguang's tone poem Gada Plum Forest, Luo Zhongrong's First symphony, Li Huanzhi's First symphony, titled Hero Island, Ma Sicong's Second Symphony, Ju Wei's tone poem Monument to the People's Heroes, Zhu Jianer's Festival Overture, and Jiang Wenye's Folk Ballad and Village Dance and Fourth Symphony of 300th Anniversary of Zheng Chenggong's Recovery of Taiwan. Symphonic Music in this period featured an increased content of realistic themes and themes from revolutionary history; it also featured experiments with using Symphonic forms to express serious historical subject matter. Programmatic musical thought still held sway, but the artistic methods were based on the traditional European norms of classical, romantic and folk music. In addition, there was a marked advance in the exploration of musical vocabulary, harmony, methods of instrumental arrangement and giving the Music a National flavor. At the same time, lyricism, color and singing maintained their prominence, while elements of drama, three-dimensionality began to show themselves in the development of musical thought.
From 1963 to 1966, apart from Ode to the Red Flag, which had a certain artistic value, there were almost no new musical works of note. Two symphonies which appeared during the "cultural revolution", Shajiabang and Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, were no more than light operas. The piano piece Yellow River can be considered a fairly complete work. The string Symphony Two Springs Reflect the Moon, rearranged by Wu Zuqiang based on the original composition by He Bingyuan, has richness and depth, and a lingering melody that shows that Wu had a deep understanding of the original piece, to which he applied his polyphonic skills in a mature way.
After 1976, Good News from Beijing to Border Villages forecasted an overall revival in Symphonic creation, and in 1981, 35 works won prizes at the First National Symphonic Music Awards Conference. Winning the top prizes were Liu Dunnan's piano concerto Mountain Forest, Zhu Jianer's Fantasia Symphony, Li Zhongyong's Nature Sketch on a Cloudy Ridge, Wang Xilin's Yunnan Tone Poem, Chen Peixun's second symphony, titled Qingming Sacrifice and Zhang Qianyi's Northern Forest. These works all provided evidence that Chinese symphonic Music had embarked on a road of healthy development.
n the period 1982-1989, the prosperous situation in Chinese symphonic Music was assisted by the rise of the New Wave movement. Spearheading the new surge was a group of young composers who introduced modern Western musical techniques into the creation of symphonies. This "stone that raised a thousand waves" induced old and middle-aged composers to join the ranks of the New Wave, and a new high point was reached in 20th century Chinese symphonic creation when other old and middle-aged composers who clung to the traditional methods of composition were spurred to turn out more excellent works. The major Symphonic works produced in this period were Sketch of Guizhou Mountains and Wonder of the Naxi People and symphonies One to Five by Zhu Jianer, Du Mingxin's fantasia Symphony God of the Luo River, Tan Dun's Piano Symphony, Qu Xiaosong's Mong Dong and First Symphony, and works by Ye Xiaogang, Chen Yi, Guo Wenjing, He Xuntian, Zhou Long, Xu Shuya, Wang Xilin, Zhong Xinming, Guo Zurong, Yong Rubu and Mou Hong. No matter who was the composer of the above works and no matter which technique he used, they all displayed a basic esthetic tendency: an increased downplaying of programmatic conception, with more skillful stereophonic and Symphonic composition. A more marked National style of expression and more pronounced dramatic, tragic and philosophical elements were other feature. All this is evidence that Chinese composers were acquiring a surer grasp of the rules of Symphonic creation.
Entering the 1990s, Chinese Symphonic creation found itself in the doldrums. Even so, throughout the decade, Zhu Jianer did sterling work in this field and produced some fine contributions, such as his suona concerto Heavenly Music, fifth to eighth symphonies and tone poem One Hundred Years of Vicissitudes, making him one of the most prominent composers of symphonies in China in this century.
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