Maestro He Wu-qi: His Contributions to Chinese Classical Music From 1926-1968

He Wu-qi was well-known in the music circle during the 1950s.  His major contribution to music culture was the establishment of the 20th Century classical music of China on Chinese instruments. In 1951 - 1952, He Wu-qi established The First National Orchestra - the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra, for Modern China. Lu Chun-ling was one of the first masters to join He Wu-qi. He Wu-qi worked tirelessly on orchestration to feature Lu as soloist in concertos. Two of the most popular concertos they both worked on are "Galloping on the Grassland" and "Past and the Present". The Yuan, the Ming and the Qing dynasties did not have their own classical Chinese music unlike the musical Jin dynasty (the time of Xie An), so He Wu-qi and Shang Yi invented their own classical music and classical dance music. He Wu-qi arranged "The Moon on High" and Zhou Hao and Ma Shenglong arranged traditional "Processional" and "Moderately Embellished Six-Measures" for the Chinese orchestra. He Wu-qi and his colleagues composed "Galloping on the Grassland", "Ma An Mountain Overture," "Fishing Song of the East China Sea," and others.

The creativity and passion for Chinese classical music of He Wu-qi was unparalleled.  His student Ma Shenglong played his brilliant pipa in a re-orchestrated version of "Flower and Moon over the Spring River" in a series of 1959 concerts in Beijing.  All the Beijing leaders widely admired the musical passion of He Wu-qi and Ma Shenglong.

In the 1960s up to the present, Shen Sinyan further propagated "The Moon on High," "Processional," "Moderately Embellished Six-Measures," "Galloping on the Grassland," "MaAn Mountain Overture," "Fishing Song of the East China Sea," "Bengawan Solo," "General's Order" and Shang Yi's "Bow Dance," "Overture to Dagger Society," and other pieces in the United States. In 2011, He Wu-qi's National Orchestra for Modern China is on its sixtieth year.  He Wu-qi did not live to witness the discovery of the musical treasures of JiaHu, Lady Hao, YuYang and SuiXian and the large volume of integrated scientific and musical research related to them, but He Wu-qi would have certainly smiled to the intonation of the bowed five-stringed zhu of YuYang Princess 2000 years ago during the Western Han Dynasty and the movie Lady Hao (3300 years ago, late Shang Dynasty

Exactly fifty years ago (May and June, 1960), the largest and the most passionate Chinese classical repertoire were recorded for the world by He Wu-qi:

"Fishing Song of the East China Sea"
"The Moon on High”
"Flower and Moon over the Spring River


Pan, FangSheng and Shao Ying, Maestro He Wu-qi (1926-1968), Chinese Music, 33, 16 (2010).
Shen, Sin-yan, The Shanghai Traditional Orchestra and He Wu-qi, Chinese Music, 5, 43 (1982).
Shen, Sin-yan, On the Acoustical Space of the Chinese Orchestra (in Chinese), People's Music, 1989, No. 2, 2 (1989). Shen, Sin-yan, Resonances of Shanghai - The Shanghai Traditional Orchestra, 33, 18 (2010).  

The Russian Five of Classical Music

In the latter part of the nineteenth century five Russian composers developed a musical style based on the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies of Russian folk music.
Mily Balakirev                               Alexander Borodin
The Russian Five is composed of a special group of Russian composers namely Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov, sometimes known as “The Mighty Five” or “The Five.” In the latter part of the nineteenth century they developed a musical style based on the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies of Russian folk music. Mily Balakirev (1837-1910) was the leader and the only thoroughly trained musician of the group. Arriving in St. Petersburg from the provinces, where he had come to know Russian folk music intimately, Balakirev at the age of eighteen set about to preach the nationalist ideals that were inspiring Michael Glinka (1804-57) and Alexander Dargomyzhsky (1813-69) to compose operas based on Russian subject matter.
Russian musical life had been dominated until the middle of the nineteenth century by western European composers and native composers trained in the western European style. Balakirev, fired with tremendous energy and an almost fanatical zeal, attracted the four other talented young men and influenced them with his own enthusiasm.

Cesar Cui
Alexander Borodin (1833-87) was one of the leading chemists of his day. Cesar Cui (1835-1918), trained as a military engineer, became a professor at the Russian Artillery School and Military College. Modest Mussorgsky (1839-81) was a cavalryman and civil-service employee. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was a naval officer until, in his late twenties, he chose music as his career.

Modest Mussorgsky
“The Five” met regularly, performing and discussing both the musical classics and the new music of the Romantic composers. They also brought in their compositions—whatever they happened to be writing—for criticism, suggestions, and encouragement. Basing their works on Russian folk songs and exotic Asian melodic ideas, “The Five” were forced to invent a harmonic style that fitted the modal patterns of the melodies; a type of orchestration colorful enough to portray the vivid scenes they had in mind; and musical forms in which the song-phrase, rather than the motive, was the basic building block.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Somewhat narrow in their outlook, “The Five” sneered at the less nationalistic compositions of Anton Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky. These men were great enough to ignore the sneers of “The Five” and even to encourage performances of their music.
Once having established the principles of what they felt to be truly Russian music, the members of “The Five” quickly asserted their individualities. Balakirev concentrated on

© 2011 Clavier/ Athena Goodlight

Bruno Mars: Debut Album Review

Bruno Mars seems to have appeared on the music scene over night. His name and songs are floating everywhere. The television show "Glee" has even covered two of his songs already which usually only pays tribute to more established artists. "Doo-Woops and Hooligans" is his debut album in which he already has comparisions to Michael Jackson to Jason Mraz.

Grenade is a catchy song with a pounding beat about a bad break up. It is a preteen favorite that parents will find themselves singing along as well. Break-up songs are good to start with because everyone can reach feelings of anger or pain but he maintains that edge while it is still fun to sing to.

Read more about Bruno Mars:  Bruno Mars: Debut Album Review 

Umm Kulthum: Legend of the East

Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like EgyptUmm Kalthoum (Arabic: أم كلثوم) (1904–1975), an Egyptian singer and musician, was the most famous singer in the Arab world in 20th century. She was born to a modest family in one of Egypt’s villages, Senbellawein, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt. She was influenced by her father, an imam (Koran reader), who taught her the instruction of Islam as well as trained her to recite it perfectly. Umm Kalthoum singing talent appeared at a very young age. When she was twelve years old, she had the chance to sing in public, and at the age of sixteen she was recognized by a famous singer, who invited her to go to Cairo, where her talent could be explored and appreciated.

Read more: Umm Kulthum: Legend of the East

Facts About Israel Kamakawiwoole Hawaiian Music: Over the Rainbow

Over The Rainbow"Israel Kamakawiwo’ole" was Born in Honolulu Hawaii in 1959 and spent the first five years of his life with his Grandfather, ( "Tutu Kane" in Hawaiian ) on the Hawaiian island of Niihau. In 1964 he returned to the island of Oahu to live with his immediate family and learned the importance of his Hawaiian language and heritage. IZ was a native Hawaiian, who upon his death in 1997, at the age of 38, was only the second citizen to receive the honor of having his body lay in state at the capitol building in Honolulu Hawaii. Israel IZ Kamakawiwoole is remembered fondly in Hawaii and throughout his worldwide fan base as much more than just a Hawaiian singer, song writer and composer. IZ sings original Contemporary Hawaiian Music in the native Hawaiian tongue and performs his beautiful ukulele songs using his solo tenor ukulele to accompany the gentle purity of his golden smooth and passionate voice which covers an extraordinary range of vocal octaves.

Read more:  Facts About Israel Kamakawiwoole Hawaiian Music over the Rainbow
Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World

Béla Bartók: A Great Hungarian Composer

(March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945)
Béla Bartók was an outstanding composer of the modern age who wrote works for string quartets, large orchestras, and series of compositions for use of young musicians and students of music. At the age of six, he began to study music in his native Hungary. He was already composing short piano pieces at the age of nine. He further continued his music studies at the Royal Academy in Budapest, and returned in 1907 as one of its youngest professors in piano.
Upon visiting a friend living in a far off village, Bartók heard a kind of Hungarian music which eventually influenced his musical compositional style for the rest of his musical career. His fellow composer, Zoltan Kodaly, also admired this type of music. They both realized that what they were actually hearing as Hungarian music in the city was actually gypsy music, a different dimension of Hungarian, or Magyar, folk music, which they can use and derive inspiration from.

Read more:  Béla Bartók: A Great Hungarian Composer

Bela Bartok: An Analysis of His Music
The Music of Bela Bartok: A Study of Tonality and Progression in Twentieth-Century Music
Béla Bartók - Mikrokosmos Volume 1 (Blue) Songbook
Pieces for Children

Chick Corea

by Scott Yanow
Chick Corea has been one of the most significant jazzmen since the '60s. Not content at any time to rest on his laurels, Corea has been involved in quite a few important musical projects, and his musical curiosity has never dimmed. A masterful pianist who, along with Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, was one of the top stylists to emerge after Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, Corea is also one of the few electric keyboardists to be quite individual and recognizable on synthesizers. In addition, he has composed several jazz standards, including "Spain," "La Fiesta," and "Windows."

Corea began playing piano when he was four and, early on, Horace Silver and Bud Powell were influences. He picked up important experience playing with the bands of Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo (1962-1963), Blue Mitchell (1964-1966), Herbie Mann, and Stan Getz. He made his recording debut as a leader with 1966's Tones for Joan's Bones, and his 1968 trio set (with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes) Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is considered a classic. After a short stint with Sarah Vaughan, Corea joined Miles Davis as Herbie Hancock's gradual replacement, staying with Davis during a very important transitional period (1968-1970). He was persuaded by the trumpeter to start playing electric piano, and was on such significant albums as Filles de Kilimanjaro, In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Miles Davis at the Fillmore. When he left Davis, Corea at first chose to play avant-garde acoustic jazz in Circle, a quartet with Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul. But at the end of 1971, he changed directions again.

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