New books by renowned musicologist USF Professor John Robison help elevate Zhu Jianer to his rightful place among 20th-century musical greats
New books by renowned musicologist help elevate Zhu Jianer to his rightful place among the pantheon of 20th-century musical greats, Chen Nan reports.
In October 2005, American musicologist John O. Robison fulfilled his longtime dream of paying a visit to China.
He came to Beijing to attend a conference held at the Central Conservatory of Music.
One day, he asked Chinese students of the school, who were assigned to receive foreign guests attending the conference, about Chinese composers. Instead of asking about those who have achieved fame and lived in the United States, Robison wanted to learn more about Chinese composers who spent their lives in their home country.
Two of the students took the musicologist to a CD shop next to the university and told Robison that Zhu Jianer (1922-2017) was one of the most famous and highly respected composers living in China. At their suggestion, Robison bought the recordings of Zhu's 10 symphonies, and after hearing them, he immediately came to the conclusion that those music works represented "an incredibly significant milestone in the rather brief history of 'Western-style' composition in China".
Since then, he was interested in listening to, and analyzing, Zhu's symphonies. Five years after his first visit to China — in November 2010 — he was finally able to make contact with Zhu through his daughter, and interviewed him for the first time in Shanghai on Nov 13,2010, when Zhu was 88 years old.
Last month, on the occasion of the late Zhu's 100th birthday, new books written by Robison about Zhu and his music works were published both in the US and in China.
Zhu Jianer and the Symphony in China was published by Zhejiang University Press in Chinese and English. The Symphonies of Zhu Jianer: A Western Perspective was published in English by Peter Lang Publishing. Each of Zhu's 10 symphonies is discussed in detail in the books and there are in-depth discussions about Chinese and Western elements in Zhu's symphonies, including such topics as his free use of 12-tone technique, his exploration of sound and his diverse and fascinating approach to musical form.
By Chen Nan | China Daily