Beethoven in China

Posted on: November 24, 2015

“Jindong Cai, 59, is an orchestra conductor and a professor at Stanford University,” writes Ian Johnson in Sunday’s (11/22) New York Times. “He has conducted many orchestras in China and has been a guest conductor at numerous orchestras in the United States.… With his wife, the writer Sheila Melvin, he has written numerous articles on China and two books on music in China: Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese and their latest, Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People’s Republic.” Cai: “Beethoven was first performed by the Shanghai Municipal Orchestra—now the Shanghai Symphony—in 1911. But that was an all-foreigner orchestra and Chinese were not allowed to attend its concerts until 1925.… China probably has the most composers in the world who make a living by composing. In America it’s not possible. Almost no one does that. You have to teach or do something else. In China, there are many new concert halls, and that has created new orchestras and they want to stage premieres. So there’s a huge demand for new music.… Every city wants a symphony or an opera that spotlights its history or famous sites.”

Posted November 24, 2015