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Development of piano in China


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Lin, En Pei 1989 , 'Development of piano in China', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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For the past sixty years, Chinese musicians, especially pianists,
piano teachers and composers for piano, have made great efforts to
develop Chinese piano music and advance the level of Chinese piano
performance and composition. Up to the present Chinese piano music
has occupied a remarkable position in the area of piano music in the
world. The author who herself has experienced half of this period is
proud of the success of Chinese piano music and also has felt not only
interest in but, in fact, the necessity of researching the subject.
The period of the development of Chinese piano music, however,
has been comparatively short. The Chinese nation has nearly one
hundred kinds of performing arts and these together with the very
active areas of folk and operatic music occupy a large proportion of
musical activity. In fact, because Western music, especially piano music,
represents only a small portion of the range of music in China,
published and unpublished research materials in this subject are very
rare. Therefore, since there are no major research publications
available on this particular subject, source materials such as small
articles published in the music magazines have been used. For further
research, the author has had to use personal information through
correspondence with colleagues and other distinguished musicians in
The purpose of this research project is to document the
development and achievement of Chinese piano music. The Western
piano, after its introduction into China in about the eighteenth century, did not become accepted or widely used until the beginning of the
twentieth century. After the 1919 "May Fourth Movement", and
following the introduction of modern trends in professional music
training, a number of music institutions which included piano
performance courses were established. Today in China there are about
twenty- two music institutions with piano as a speciality.
Since the first piano concert was held m Shanghai in 1930, piano
music activities have increased remarkably. Many Chinese pianists
have been prize winners at music competitions both in China and
abroad. Several musicians have been internationally recognized and
invited to adjudicate international competitions. The exchange of
pianists between China and other countries has been intensified.
After the first Chinese piano composition was published in 1915,
Chinese piano music, through five different periods and with the
endeavours of over one hundred composers, has developed a pleasing
progression. It has also gradually formed its own specialities, and
composition methods have become more varied and fresh, nowadays
including even the twelve-tone system and atonal methods.
In chapter 3, five outstanding composers and their works are
described. In chapter 4, the famous Chinese composer Ting Shan Te is
considered. This composer may be identified as a leading innovator in
music education and cultural activities, and his compositions for piano
and other instruments are significant contributions to music general. It
may be concluded that his piano works were integral to the
development of piano composition in China.
In chapter five, the contribution of three distinguished piano teachers, who devoted their lives to piano pedagogy, is assessed, as well
as the role of three outstanding musical institutions, which are shown
to have played a vital role in the development of Chinese piano music.
All cultivated a number of elite musicians and enhanced the quality of
piano teaching in their own country.
Finally, one may conclude that although the achievement of
Chinese piano performance, teaching and composition is considerable,
Chinese musicians will need to maintain their high rate of progress in
order to fulfill the great potential which exists in this field in China.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Lin, En Pei
Keywords: piano music, China, music history and criticism
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