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).