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Yellow River Piano Concerto, The

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Xian Xing-hai

Xian Xing-hai

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General Info

Year: 1939 / 1969
Duration: c. 21:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano and Orchestra
Publisher: Manuscript
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Prelude: The Song of the Yellow River Boatmen (黄河船夫曲)
2. Ode To the Yellow River (黄河頌)
3. The Yellow River In Anger (黄河憤)
4. Defend the Yellow River (保衛黄河) - 6:40


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Yellow River Piano Concerto is a piano concerto arranged by a collaboration between musicians including Yin Chengzong and Chu Wanghua, and based on the Yellow River Cantata by composer Xian Xinghai. Since its politicized premiere in 1969 during the Cultural Revolution, the concerto has become popular in China and amongst overseas Chinese nationalists. It is noted for a difficult solo part. This piano concerto and the Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto, which tells the story of the Butterfly Lovers, are two internationally known Chinese works that combine Western music methodology with Chinese source materials.

Xian Xinghai wrote the Yellow River Cantata at Yan'an in 1939, allegedly in a cave in just six days, during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). It is an eight-movement piece in which he used traditional folk-melodies and evoked the image of the Yellow River as a symbol of Chinese defiance against the Japanese invaders.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), when all the Western and some Chinese art was forbidden, the pianist Yin Chengzong arranged the Yellow River Cantata into a concerto for piano and orchestra, by the name of Yellow River Piano Concerto (1969).

After China opened its doors to the world in late 1970s, Yin planned the performance of the piano concerto. There was a debate whether some politically incorrect anthems like The East Is Red, which Yin interpolated into the concerto, should be removed. It was decided that the work itself was a cultural legacy of the time when it was created, the melodies reminding listeners of that period and creating a unique sense of history. Hence, the work remained intact as it was originally arranged.

Beginning in the 1970s, the Yellow River Concerto has been heard in the West, often performed by Yin Chengzong himself, and in 1988 the Italian pianist Riccardo Caramella became the first Western pianist who performed it in China with a Chinese orchestra, the Beijing Radio Symphony Orchestra.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by this Composer