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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Monday, September 14

Tan Dun and Beethoven – in (and out) of China

Synopsis

On this date in 1973, Eugene Ormandy conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in music by Mozart, Brahms, and the American composer, Roy Harris. The program was nothing out of the ordinary, but the concert took place in Beijing and marked the FIRST time an American orchestra had performed in Communist China. The orchestra was invited to China following the famous visit of President and Mrs. Nixon and secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

In the audience for one of these historic concerts was a young student of traditional Chinese music named Tan Dun. When Tan heard the Philadelphians perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a work he had never heard before, he decided then and there to become a composer himself. In 1986, Tan Dun came to New York City, and since then has managed to combine elements of East and West into his own musical works.

In 1987, for example, he composed a violin concerto entitled “Out of Peking Opera,” which draws on both Chinese and European traditions. In addition to prestigious awards and commissions from major foundations and orchestras, in March of 2001, Tan Dun won an Oscar for his film score to the Ang Lee film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) Symphony No. 5 Royal Philharmonic; René Leibowitz, cond. Chesky 17

Tan Dun (b. 1957) Out of Peking Opera Cho-Liang Lin, violin; Helsinki Philharmonic; Muhai Tang, cond. Ondine 864

Additional Information

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