[BLOG] More music! “North Wind Blows” and “Liuyang River”

After my last post about Liang Zhu, there was some interest in the sheet music. I realized that it’s actually quite an advanced piece, I would say it requires at least 5 years of pretty serious piano study to attempt this piece. So I went back through my music and found two more pieces that I loved playing, one that is much easier (I think I learned this after 2-3 years of piano), and one that is slightly easier but considerably shorter.

I will be uploading all MP3’s and sheet music to this dropbox folder! Liang Zhu is in there, as are the two songs I am discussing in this post. Disclaimer: copyright, I don’t own any of the sheet music or the MP3’s, yada yada…  Apologies also for my poor scanning quality!

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[BLOG] Music: Butterfly Lovers (Liang Zhu)

One of the ideas we are entertaining for the Moon Festival celebration coming up in September is to have the kids break up into groups and perform skits of various Chinese myths and stories.

One of the most famous is the legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, often abbreviated as Liang Zhu, and it is considered the Chinese Romeo & Juliet. “Liang zhu” means “butterfly” in Chinese, so the English translation is “Butterfly lovers.”

Long story short: Zhu is a brilliant young girl and pretends to be a man in order to attend school, where she and her classmate Liang fall deeply in love. When she finally reveals her true identity as a woman, they prepare to get married, but her parents have already arranged her engagement to another man. Liang dies of a broken heart, and Zhu commits suicide. The two are reincarnated as a pair of butterflies (hence “liang zhu”).

Due to the nature of the ending, I preliminarily decided against the inclusion of this in the Moon Festival skits. However, I wanted to post about it because not only is it a famous legend, but in 1959 it was adapted into a violin concerto that is now extremely famous both in and outside of China. This is easily one of my favorite works of music. I used to play both piano and flute, so I learned the piano solo arrangement as well as the flute part in the original orchestral arrangement.

This is a breathtakingly beautiful piece, listening to it instantly brings all kinds of emotions for me, this is one of the pieces I grew up listening to (and playing!). Please share this with your children, especially if they play instruments!

I would be happy to send an MP3 to whoever would like to download the song to listen to. I can also scrounge up the piano arrangement if anyone would like a scan! (It is intermediate/advanced skill level though, so someone playing for 1-2 years probably shouldn’t attempt it, will get discouraged :P)

Email me or drop a comment if interested in MP3 or sheet music!

[BLOG] Film: The Flowers of War

Christian Bale (of Dark Knight fame) plays the starring role in China’s top-grossing film of 2011, also the most expensive Chinese film ever made, Zhang Yimou’s epic The Flowers of War. See Christian Bale talk about it here.

The film is set in 1937, Nanjing, China, during the “Rape of Nanjing“, at the time of the Second Sino-Japanese War. This is a period that is glossed over in American history classes but was a truly terrible time for China, and is the reason why many Chinese citizens still bear a serious grudge against the Japanese (my mother included).

In the film, Christian Bale plays a mortician who pretends to be a priest to protect Chinese Catholic schoolgirls against imminent rape by Japanese soldiers; he also helps shelter a group of Chinese prostitutes, who ultimately decide to sacrifice themselves in place of the schoolgirls when the Japanese army requests their presence. I haven’t personally seen it yet but CSA is hoping to organize a screening of it at Princeton. It looks really good! Check out the American (English) trailer here. Get your Kleenex ready…  Continue reading