The art of songwriting

Share This Post

A new album celebrates the late Ding Shande, a hugely influential and prolific Chinese composer, pianist and musical educator.

The art of songwriting
Sun Li (left), CEO of Naxos China, presents a commemorative edition of the album, Essential Art Songs of Ding Shande, to Yu He (second from left), CEO of Kuke Music, tenor Zhang Jianyi (third from left) and pianist Wei Fugen. The album marks Ding's 110th birth anniversary.[Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Klaus Heymann can still recall the day when he visited late Chinese composer and pianist Ding Shande (1911-95) in Shanghai in the 1980s.

"I don't know which year it was since it was a very long time ago. Back then, Shanghai was quite different from today. There were less cars, and it was very dark outside during the night," says Heymann. "I remember that there were two boys playing in the big living room of Ding's nice, old house."

That's how Heymann's friendship with Ding and his family started.

The German-born entrepreneur, 85, is credited with founding Naxos in 1987, today a leading classical record label headquartered in Hong Kong.

Heymann, who doesn't play instruments and can't read music, launched the record label to distribute recordings made by his wife, Japanese violinist Takako Nishizaki, who, since settling in Hong Kong in 1974, has become well-known for her performances and recordings of Chinese violin pieces, especially the Butterfly Lovers violin concerto.

Four decades later, Heymann still keeps in touch with Ding's family by working with the "two boys"-Ding's grandsons: Yu Long, a veteran conductor, and Yu He, founder and CEO of Kuke Music, China's first online platform dedicated to promoting classical music.

On Nov 12, the 110th birth anniversary of Ding, an album, titled Essential Art Songs of Ding Shande, was released globally by Naxos.

Featuring 14 art songs and five songs from Song Cycle Dianxi Poem Collection, all composed by Ding, the album is performed by Chinese tenor Zhang Jianyi, soprano Huang Ying and pianist Wei Fugen.

"All of the art songs have the distinctive sound of Chinese folk music, which Ding combined with Western classical music. People around the world will be able to enjoy his music,"Heymann says.

When Chinese composers were not as widely known worldwide as they are today, Naxos had recorded and published musical works by Chinese composers, including Bright Sheng, Tan Dun and Chen Qigang, according to Heymann.

Ding's music pieces are also included in Naxos' large catalog, such as his symphonic poem Spring and the piano suite for children Happy Festival, both performed by Ding's daughter, pianist Ding Jiannuo, along with his Long March Symphony, performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Yu Long.

"My grandfather composed many musical works. My favorites are his art songs. He loved Chinese folk songs and he wrote many pieces that were inspired by them," says Yu Long. "I was very lucky to grow up with him and receive musical training from him, which had a profound lifelong influence."

1  2  >  

Follow Chinafolk on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download

Related Posts

COMME MOI kicks off Shanghai Fashion Week

Chinese supermodel Lyu Yan's fashion brand COMME MOI kicked off the Spring/Summer 2023 Shanghai Fashion Week in Xintiandi on Thursday.

Exhibition motivates actions to address pressing climate issues

China Climate Action Week Thematic Exhibition, running through Sunday at Inter Art Center and Gallery in Beijing's 798 Art Zone, gathers the works of 15 artists from around the world that respond to the climate crisis. Their creations invite the audience into a discussion reflecting on the ways of coexistence between the humankind and nature, the impacts of human activities on the climate change, and how to participate in and accelerate climate action.

Beijing based sculptor’s exhibition a highlight in Shanghai

Blue in White is the solo exhibition of Beijing-based sculptor Cao Yun at The Place, a commercial complex in Hongqiao area of Shanghai, going on from Sep 2 to Nov 16.

Concert held in Ulan Bator to promote China-Mongolia friendship

A concert was held in Ulan Bator Wednesday to promote cultural ties and friendship between China and Mongolia.

Guangzhou alley adorned with cat murals

Many cute cats, painted on exterior walls along Baimi Alley in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, have drawn photo enthusiasts. They are part of a project in Renmin subdistrict to brighten up old communities.

Chinese designers shine at London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week in the British capital has witnessed a never-before-seen representation and diversity of new designers and models on the catwalks showing their spring/summer 2023 collections, with voices calling for even more collaborations with Chinese businesses and creators.
- Advertisement -spot_img