MU GUIYING TAKING COMMAND by China Central Philharmonic Composition Group
Mu Guiying is a heroine of
ancient Chinese legend. In the Northern Song Dynasty, the north border area of China was
constantly invaded by the Khitans (Liao) from the north. Yang Jiye,
a famous general, made great contributions to the resistance against the Khitan invasion and finally died a heroic death. Later his
deeds were embellished in folk-story-telling and opera, and gradually developed
into the legend of Generals of the Yangs with a complicated
plot. His personal story became that of several generations of his family. In
the legend, Mu Guiying was
a grand-daughter-in-Iaw of Yang Jiye,
who once bravely joined the fighting against the Khitans
when she was young. The story of Mu Guiying Taking Command tells about another invasion by the Khitans. Though the Song emperor intended to appoint Mu Guiying, who had been released
from military service twenty years before, as commander against the Khitan troops, she was unwilling to accept the appointment
out of her resentment against the imperial court’s mean and unfair treatment of
the Yangs. Under the persuasion of Grandma She, Yang Jiye’s widow, Mu finally boldly
accepted the appointment and commanded the Song troops to the battle against
the invaders. During his later years, Mei Lanfang, China’s
distinguished maestro of Beijing opera, once
adapted the Henan opera
Mu Guiying Taking
Command as a Beijing
opera of the same title, which has been enjoying wide popularity. It is on the
music of Beijing
opera that the present symphonic poem is based.
The symphonic poem
consists of four movements in line with the development of the plot:
MOVEMENT 1: Reminiscence
Tianbo Mansion was the residence of the Yangs.
The music expresses the retired Mu Guiying’s reminiscences of her military career when she was
MOVEMENT 2: Khitan Invasion
The music depicts the
savagery and cruelty of the Khitan invaders and the
misery of the Chinese people under the heel of the invaders and their hatred of
MOVEMENT 3: Taking
The music describes Mu Guiying’s psychological
struggle after her appointment. She sighed over the great sacrifice the Yang
family had made for the defence of the motherland.
Meanwhile, she also resented the meanness and unfairness of the imperial
government to her family. Seeing the country was in danger of being
extinguished by the aggressors, however, she finally decided to accept the
MOVEMENT 4: Expedition
Valiant and heroic, Mu Guiying commanded the great
and powerful troops in the battle against the invaders.
YELLOW CRANE MANSION by Chen Peixun
Yellow Crane Mansion is a symphonic poem composed by Chen Peixun as the first movement of Heroic Poetry, a symphonic poem based on Mao Zedong’s
poems. The music begins with a depiction of the beautiful sights of the
mountains and rivers of the motherland. The mood is in a turmoil just like
turbulent rivers, which indicates the coming of a counter-revolutionary storm
and displays the furious indignation of the people rising against the enemy.
Following this is the solemn and stirring string passage which expresses the
people’s memory of the revolutionary martyrs. The middle part of the piece is
bright and optimistic. The progressive rise in mood symbolizes the irresistible
torrent of the revolution. The music ends with the description of the radiant
and enchanting spring dusk scene. The distant bells to the tune of The East Is Red, a widely popular revolutionary
folk-song, foretells the rebirth of the revolution and the splendid future of
by Liu Dunnan
The Tang Dynasty
(618-917) was a brilliant period in the history of the Chinese poetry. During
the dynasty numerous poets wrote countless volumes of immortal poems, which
have not only served to nurture the literary talent of poets of development of
later generations, but also inspired the artistic creation of innumerable
painters and composers. It was after the reading of a number of Tang poems that
the composer Liu Dunnan made the present Fantasy Poem on the basis of the
artistic conception of the poems. The work consists of three movements: Drunk Song on the Battlefietd,
Joyful Dance in the Secluded
Palace and Bells along the Silk Road.
The Chinese composer Liu Dunnan was born in Sichuan
in 1940. In his childhood he studied the trumpet, the violin and the piano.
Later he studied composition in the Composition Department of the Shanghai
Conservatory of Music. After graduation, he worked successively with the Anhui Maanshan Culture Centre and
Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Since 1984 he has been living in the United States.
His main works include piano concerto
and the orchestral Fantasy Poem.
A Chinese composer, Chen Peixun was born in Hong Kong
in 1921. In 1939 he began to study composition in the Composition Department of
the Shanghai School of Music. After graduation he successively held teaching
posts at various schools of art in Guangdong, Sichuan, Hubei
After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 he began to work as a
professor at the China Central Conservatory of Music. His main works include
piano pieces Grocer and Butterflies
Flying together, symphonic poem Yellow Crane
Mansion and Symphony No. 2 The Rite of Qingming.
SHANGHAI PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
The Shanghai Philharmonic
Orchestra is among the most distinguished ensembles of its kind in China. It was
established in 1952 as the East China Music Troupe, originally under the
direction of the well-known composer He Luting, who
was followed by Huang Yijun and Situ Han. The present
artistic director is Cao Peng.
Over the course of some fifty years the orchestra has given over three thousand
concerts, in addition to its work in broadcasting, television and film studios
and its many recordings for international release.
One of the most
distinguished conductors in China,
Cao Peng was born in Jiangyin, Jiangsu, in 1925.
In 1946 he entered the Arts Department of Shandong University and in 1950 was
appointed principal conductor of both the Shanghai Film Studio Orchestra and
the Beijing Film Studio Orchestra. In 1955 he moved to the then Soviet Union, entering the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory to
study under the conductor Leo Ginsburg. After his return to China in 1961 Cao Peng was appointed resident
conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and is now artistic director and
principal conductor of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as serving
as music advisor and resident conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and
music director and principal conductor of the Shanghai Chamber Orchestra.