The Before and After of Vin Chengzong

My goal with this Blog is to remove the western-Sinophobe stereotype of Communist China and the Chinese, which is why I post on such a diverse variety of topics from history, to music, the arts, politics, current events and occasionally on an individual such as Vin Chengzon.

Vin Chengzong (born 1941) is another example that reveals where China has been and where it is today.

To some, he is considered the Court Pianist to the Cultural Revolution.

Most in the West do not know that music was an important part of the new art, which Cultural Revolution leaders proposed to replace the old music.

Although European classics were banned, Yin managed to create music that was highly Western in its technique, harmonic structure, instrumentation, and emphasis on choral singing. While the piano became an example of the bourgeoisie (the capitalist corruption of Western culture) and was in danger of vanishing from China, Yin transformed the piano from a target of the revolution into a positive symbol of radical change in Chinese culture. Source: Google Books

To accomplish this during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) when all Western art and music were forbidden, Yin ingeniously created the piano-accompanied version of The Legend of the Red Lantern, one of the Eight model plays, the only plays, operas and ballets permitted during the period.

Yin and other members of a special committee arranged this work in 1969 based on the Yellow River Cantata by Xian Xinghai. In the final movement of the concerto, Yin incorporated the melody The East Is Red. The instruments used, the piano and the orchestra, were all Western, but the music was heavily influenced by Chinese folk melodies.

Considered one of the world’s leading pianists, Yin was born on China’s “Piano Island” of Gulangyu in Xiamen, Fujian Province. He gave his first recital at age nine. Three years later, he entered the pre-college of the Shanghai Conservatory, and then transferred to the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

In 1983, following difficulties with the new government that came to power after Mao died, due to his alleged closeness to the Gang of Four, Yin immigrated to the US, where he made his debut in Carnegie Hall. Since then, he has performed for audiences around the world.

In fact, his solo performances have been featured on China Central Television and CBS Sunday Morning.

In 2010, Yin toured China for a ten-city tour with the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Yellow River Concerto.

Formerly a professor and artist-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Yin now lives in New York City.

You’ve Come a Long Ways, Babe is another example of an individual bringing about positive changes in China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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2 Responses to The Before and After of Vin Chengzong

  1. Terry Jarvis says:

    Mr. Lofthouse, I applaud the purpose of your blog but do you really think there is any more nurturing of stereotypes today in the West than in China itself? I’m a semi retired businessman from Colorado, have lived here in China for five years, recently married here. We’re moving to Beihai to live a relaxed life and try writing.

    • Terry Jarvis,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “nurturing of stereotypes”. There will always be stereotypes in all cultures and societies. I suggest reading K. D. Koratsky’s book “Living With Evolution or Dying Without It”, to discover that the generalizations we call stereotypes serve a purpose in evolution and survival

      However, in the West (especially America), the stereotype of China as evil and inferior is counterproductive and creates an imbalance, which may lead to other problems such s more war. Do we really need more useless wars that serve no purpose but to feed money to the monster President Eisenhower warned us of?

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