GANG CHEN (b 1935 )
The Chinese composer Chen Gang was born in Shanghai in 1935 and studied with his father and at the Shanghai Conservatory with Ding Shande. While still a student he collaborated in the composition of one of the most popular pieces among Chinese audiences, The Butterfly Lovers Concerto.
The Butterfly Lovers Concerto, its English title alluding to the ill-fated couple who could be together only in death and transformed into butterflies, enjoys exceptionally wide popularity. Written originally for solo violin and Western orchestra, it follows the tragic story of two lovers, known in regional Chinese opera, in an attractive and familiar Chinese musical language, the violin to some extent imitating the Chinese er-hu (two-string fiddle). Chen Gang wrote a later concerto on the story of Wang Zhaojun, the Emperor’s favourite concubine who was sacrificed for political expediency.