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(1933 - 2013)

Wang Lisan was born in Wuhan in 1933, but his hometown was Qianwei, Sichuan. In 1937 the family moved to Chengdu, a wartime refuge. As a child, Wang took advantage of the family’s intellectual heritage and developed a variety of interests, including Taoist philosopy, Chinese painting, folk music, calligraphy and Chinese opera. In 1951 he entered the East China Branch of the Central Conservatory of Music (the present Shanghai Conservatory of Music) and in 1953 wrote Lanhuahua, the Beautiful Girl, which launched his career. In 1957, with Liu Shiren and Jiang Zuxin he published an article in People’s Music in which he criticised Xinghai, the composer of The Yellow River Cantata, a work praised by Chairman Mao Zedong.

Largely because of this, Wang was labelled a rightist and in 1959 was exiled to the North-Eastern corner of China to work with the Hejiang Reclamation Bureau’s Art Troupe. In 1963, when the troupe was disbanded, he entered the Harbin Art Institute (later Harbin Normal University’s Arts Institute) as a teacher. The Cultural Revolution brought further difficulties, and Wang was suspended from the teaching staff and able to resume teaching only in 1972, continuing at the institute until his retirement to Shanghai in 2002. He served as the institute’s chairman from 1985 to 1996, and during this period his compositional output suffered, largely as a result of his administrative duties. In 2003 Wang suffered a stroke, yet still managed to compose until 2007. He died in Shanghai in 2013.

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