About this Recording
82077 - NIE: Village Girl Beyond the Great Wall

In the history of modern Chinese music, Nie Er (1912- 1935) has undoubtedly taken a special position. lt is not only because his March of Volunteers was later adopted as the present national anthem of the People’s Republic of China, but in his short life, he created for the people many other songs and instrumental pieces. Some of his works reflected the sufferings and groaning of the broad mass of the labouring people at that time, and others were an expression of the patriotism and resistance of the Chinese people in face of the Japanese aggression. His works, some full of tremendous momentum and imbued with the spirit of the age, some lyrical, graceful and in a strongly national style, were not only great favourites of Chinese at home and abroad then, but are also still treasured by the Chinese people today as precious elements of the Chinese national music, Though his career as a composer lasted for only two years, from the publishing of his first composition to his accidental death when swimming in the sea of Japan, his works have had a uniquely profound influence on modern Chinese music. The eight orchestral pieces here included are all arrangements of Nie Er’s songs. The arrangers here adapted and enriched the expressive power of the originals, giving the audience a completely new artistic experience and deeper understanding.


Village Girl beyond the Great Wall was originally composed in 1935 as a song in the film Refuge, which describes the sufferings of the farmers beyond the Great Wall in face of the Japanese invasion, and their rebellious spirit. In this film, the song Village Girl beyond the Great Wall is sung by a village girl when milling grain The melody vividly depicts the village girl, hungry, cold and tired, driving the milling roller with difficulty. The music contains the enormous sadness of the impoverished peasants.


Graduation Song was written in 1934 as a song in the film The Pupil To Be A Thief. This film describes the misfortune of some young Chinese students after the September 18th Incident of 1931, which Japanese fascists began their invasion of China. Though the students entertained a great ambition to serve their motherland, their ideal was soon shattered by harsh reality and the ruin of their families. Graduation Song is the song sung by the students at their graduation ceremony. In the style of a march, the song expresses the young students’ lofty ideals. Faced with the destitution of the people and the loss of territory, they are determined to shoulder the responsibility of national rejuvenation and set off an upsurge towards national salvation. They preferred to die on the battlefield as masters of the country rather than enjoy rapid promotion to positions as slaves without a country. After its appearance with the showing of the film, the song aroused a strongly sympathetic chord among the broad masses of the people, especially among patriotic young students. It occupies a distinguished position in the modern history of Chinese music


Leaving Southeast Asia was composed in 1934 as a song in the drama Return of Spring. During the War of Resistance against Japan, many young overseas Chinese returned to China, their motherland, joining in the fighting against the Japanese aggressors and making contributions to the defence of their sacred motherland. It is on this subject that the drama Return of Spring is based. Sung by the hero of the drama before returning to the motherland to fight in the resistance, the song Leaving Southeast Asia expresses the patriotism of the young overseas Chinese, who were not afraid of death in defence of their motherland


Song of the Broad Road was originally written in 1934 as the theme song of the film The Broad Road. Through the description of the road builders, who, facing the intense heat of summer and braving the icy temperatures of winter, united to construct a broad road of freedom at the risk of the enemy’s gunfire, this film vividly reflects the desire of the Chinese people to resist the Japanese invaders. With the rhythm of the work-song sung by the road roller-drawers running through the whole song, with each syllable of the words set to a single note of the music, the music sounds steady and strong, depicting the heavy work of the road-builders and gives expression to the iron will of the Chinese people and their determination to carry resistance against the invaders through to the end.


Singing Girl Downtrodden was originally composed in 1935 as a song in the film Children of the Storm. The song touchingly expresses the sufferings of the singing girls in the most humble class and their indignant condemnation of the dark society. In the national crisis, these singing girls, suffering hunger and cold, were forced to tramp hither and thither, making a living by singing. Though they had tasted to the full the bitterness of life and were beaten black and blue, they were unfairly treated as not caring about the danger of national subjugation.


In 1933, when Nie Er was working at the Shanghai Lianhua Film Studio, he made friends with a newsgirl about ten years old. Every day before dawn the little girl had to queue up for the newspapers to be sold, and she always had to sell newspapers late into the night. If she failed to sell all the newspapers, her family would go hungry. The girl’s sufferings made a great impact on him, and it was with the little newsgirl as the model that Nie Er composed the Song of the Newsboy In 1934, when the drama Storm over the Yangtze River was staged in Shanghai, Nie Er specially invited the little newsgirl to play the role of a newsboy in the drama and sing the song, which soon becomes very popular. With resilient rhythm and lively melody, the song vividly portrays the image of an innocent newsboy and expresses his bitterness and his hope for the future.


Song of Whirling Flowers was composed in 1934 as the theme song of the film Whirling Flowers Village. In strophic form, the song uses different species of flowers blooming in different seasons as a contrast for the poverty and misery of the flower-growers.


Song of Mei Niang was composed in 1934 as a song in the drama Return of Spring. The drama depicts the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia abandoning the peaceful comfortable life there and returning to their motherland to join in the fighting against the Japanese aggressors. Mei Niang, the heroine in the drama, was the daughter of a rich overseas Chinese merchant in Southeast Asia. Her sweetheart Gao Weihan once returned to China to join in the fighting against the Japanese aggressors. In a battle Gao was wounded and lost his memory. With this song, Mei Niang tried to recall her lover’s memory of the past. The plaintive melody displays Mei Niang’s deep love for her lover and her inmost sorrow.


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.

Close the window