Music of the Republic of China

From Music-China Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search


Development of Chinese music during the Republic of China

General information

Author Wiki Users
English title Music of the Republic of China
Date of publication

Entities mentioned

In this article, especially the following entities (bands, artists, cities, articles, etc.) are being called out:

Keywords & Genre

The following keywords / genres apply for this article:

Traditional, Classical, History

Geographical span of this epoch

Republic of China (orthographic projection, historical).svg.png
Claimed territory, actual control was tenuous

Important locations

Loading map...


Cantonese music ensemble, postcard, undated but roughly 1900-1915
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination

The Republic of China lasted from 1912 to 1949.

The New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s evoked a great deal of lasting interest in Western music. A number of Chinese musicians returned from studying abroad to perform Western classical music, composing work based on Western musical notation system. The Kuomintang tried to sponsor modern music adoptions via the Shanghai Conservatory of Music despite the ongoing political crisis. 20th-century cultural philosophers like Xiao Youmei, Cai Yuanpei, Feng Zikai and Wang Guangqi wanted to see Chinese music adopted to the best standard possible. There were many different opinions regarding the best standard.[1]

Symphony orchestras were formed in most major cities and performed to a wide audience in the concert halls and on radio. Many of the performers added jazz influences to traditional music, adding xylophones, saxophones and violins, among other instruments. Lü Wencheng, Li Jinhui, Zhou Xuan, Qui Hechou, Yin Zizhong and He Dasha were among the most popular performers and composers during this period. Western-influenced music first came to the Republic of China in the 1920s, specifically to Shanghai.[2] Zhou Xuan (周璇) acted in films and recorded popular songs, and was possibly the first Chinese pop star.

In 1927 Li Jinhui organized the "Chinese Dance School" (中华歌舞学校 Zhōnghuá gēwǔ xuéxiào) and then the "Chinese Song and Dance Troupe" (中华歌舞团 Zhōnghuá gēwǔtuán)[3].

In 1929 Li Jinhui organized the Bright Moonlight Song and Dance Troupe and toured around the country[3]. The tour began mostly as political squeeze due to the National Revolutionary Army during the Northern Expedition. When he was situated at Singapore, that was when his "period song" compositions began. The style would have some western influence and it moved Chinese music to a new direction[4]. Those period songs would then be labeled as shidaiqu. In 1931 it merged into the Lianhua China Film Company. This troupe also produced several musicals figures such as Zhou Xuan, who was groomed until Li's mastery[2]. She would later become one of the Seven great singing stars of the Republic of China.

In 1935, Huang Tzu established the Shanghai Orchestra, the first all-Chinese orchestra, and taught many famous Chinese musician, such as He Luding, Zhu Ying, Jiang Dingxian, Lin Sheng, Lin Shengxi and Liu Xuean.

In 1936, Zha Fuxi co-founded the Jinyu Society Qin Society (今虞琴社) which later became one of the major national musical organizations for the guqin.

In 1938, Huang Tzu died of typhoid fever in Shanghai.

After the 1942 Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art, a large-scale campaign was launched in the Communist Party of China|Communist controlled areas to adapt folk music to create revolutionary songs to educate the largely illiterate rural population on party goals. Musical forms considered superstitious or anti-revolutionary were repressed, and harmony|harmonies and bass lines were added to traditional songs. One example is The East is Red, a folksong from northern Shaanxi which was adapted into a nationalist hymn. Of particular note is the composer, Xian Xinghai, who was active during this period, and composed the Yellow River Cantata which is the most well-known of all of his works.

Further information

General information


  1. Jones. Andrew F. [2001] (2001). Yellow Music — CL: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822326949.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Broughton, Simon. Ellingham, Mark. Trillo, Richard. [2000] (2000) World Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides Publishing Company. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  3. 3.0 3.1 Aigomusic. "Aigomusic." Li Jinhui. Retrieved on 2007-04-30.
  4. Chinabook gov. "Chinabook." Era of change. Retrieved on 2007-04-30.