HUAN ZHI LI (1919 - 2000)
A prominent Chinese composer, Li Huanzhi was born in Hong Kong in 1919, although his ancestral home is in Jinjiang, Fujian. In 1936 he entered the Shanghai School of Music and studied composition under Xiao Youmei. After the outbreak of the war of resistance against Japanese aggression he was engaged in the composition of propaganda songs against Japan and of art songs, in Xiamen and Hong Kong. In 1938 he studied in the Music Department of the Luxun Institute of Arts in Yanan and later became a teacher at the institute. Meanwhile he continued to compose and conduct choirs, editing the periodical National Music. Between 1946 and 1949 he served as Dean of the Music Department of the Arts and Literature Institute of North China United University and since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 has played an active part in musical life. He served in succession in leading posts in the Musical Troupe of the China Central Conservatory, the China Central Song and Dance Ensemble and the China Central National Music Ensemble and was appointed as the Chairman of the China Musicians’ Association for many years. Over a period of some fifty years he has written many pieces, including songs such as March of the Foundation of a New Democratic Country, March of the Youth of New China and Socialism is Good. His principal compositions include the orchestral suite Spring Festival, Symphony No. 1, Su Wu and Hujia (traditional Chinese reed instrument) Chant for guqin (Chinese seven-string zither) and chorus, a concerto for the zheng (a 21- or 25-stringed zither) Miluo River Fantasia, called alter the river in which the famous statesman and poet Qu Yuan drowned himself in despair at defeat in 258 B.C., the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival, and a one-act opera, Autumn in a Foreign Country. He has also written theoretical works, A Course of Composition, Random Notes on Music Composition, derived from some three hundred earlier essays, On the Art of Musical Composition and a number of other works.