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 Peking Opera "The Red Lantern" Sung With Piano Accompaniment

Victory of Mao Tse-tung's Thought in Literature and Art

Peking Opera "The Red Lantern" Sung With Piano Accompaniment

— A New Form of Proletarian Revolutionary Art

Source: Peking Review. No. 30, July 26, 1968
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org

    GOOD news has come from Peking's literary and art front at a time when the proletarian revolutionaries throughout the country are winning all-round victory in the great cultural revolution: Peking opera, The Red Lantern, sung with piano accompaniment, a new form of proletarian art, has been created. It came into being under the brilliant guidance of our great leader Chairman Mao's concept of "making the past serve the present and foreign things serve China," and under the personal care and leadership of Comrade Chiang Ching. Audiences of the broad masses of workers, peasants and soldiers and revolutionary artists give high praise to this blossom shining with the light of Mao Tse-tung's thought. They say that this successful creation of piano accompaniment to the singing of Peking opera The Red Lantern has given the piano, a Western musical instrument, a new life in serving proletarian politics. This has not only opened a new road for Western musical instruments and symphonic music, but also for musical accompaniment to Chinese opera. It is of great significance for the rcvolutionization of piano music and plays an important role in accelerating the revolutionization of Peking opera music.

During the weeks since its first performance on the evening of July 1, the 47th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, Peking's broad worker, peasant and soldier masses and revolutionary artists have gathered by their radios or television sets to listen to recordings or hear and see transmissions of the July 1st performance of chief arias from the Peking opera The Red Lantern sung to piano accompaniment. Many of them have listened several times. Not a few organizations have made tape-recordings of the broadcasts so that they or others could listen to it at any time. Although the radio stations broadcast recordings many times a day, they still received letters demanding more. Many listeners in letters and articles to the press tell of the education and inspiration they have received from these performances. Praise comes from urban and rural areas, offices and schools, shops and P.L.A. barracks: "It is fine!" They say: The singing of the Peking opera The Red Lantern with piano accompaniment is an outstanding pioneering achievement of the great proletarian cultural revolution. Like those gems of art, the eight model revolutionary theatrical works, it is a splendid revolutionary work of art of a kind never known before. Of all the fine things characterizing the piano accompaniment for The Red Lantern the most fundamental is that it effectively displays the great power of Mao Tse-tung's thought, of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line in literature and art.
   The revolutionary modern Peking opera The Red Lantern tells of the three generations of the family of Li Yu-ho, a railway worker and underground Party member, in the struggle against the Japanese invaders in the 1940s. (See Peking Review, No. 48, 1967.) Sung to piano accompaniment, its chief arias while retaining the basic characteristics of Peking opera singing are at the same time enriched by the characteristics of the piano — its wide range of sound, its great power and varied means of expression. Thus the heroic images of Li Yu-ho, the hero, and Li Tieh-mei, the young heroine, appear to even greater effect.

Born in the Struggle Between the Two Lines

   For hundreds of years, the piano, regarded by the bourgeoisie as one of the crowning glories of Western music, was used to treat such themes as life and death, love and hate, ghosts, spirits, the graveyard and other reactionary themes, expressing decadent bourgeois ideas and sentiments. Even after the founding of New China, China's Khrushchov and his agents in the field of literature and art peddled foreign, ancient, feudal, bourgeois and revisionist culture and permitted the bourgeoisie to continue to dominate the art of the piano. They tried to use the piano as an instrument for preparing public opinion for the restoration of capitalism.
   The successful revolutionization of Peking opera gave revolutionary musicians courage and inspiration in revolutionizing piano music. Beginning in 1964, Yin Cheng-tsung, the pianist who is the composer of and plays the piano accompaniment to chief arias from The Red Lantern, together with the comrades in the Central Philharmonic Society, began to experiment and arranged some revolutionary songs and popular folk songs for the piano. But even these attempts were obstructed and sabotaged by the handful of counter-revolutionary revisionists in the field of literature and art. One of them told Yin Cheng-tsung: "Now your piano playing is too tense and vigorous. You should go in for more lyrical pieces." Another reactionary "authority" chided him, saying: "Stop messing about! Be more serious about your piano playing."
   On January 27, 1965, Comrade Chiang Ching paid the Central Philharmonic Society a visit. She encouraged them, saying: "I think it's quite possible to use these musical instruments to serve the people and the revolution." She urged them: You must not follow what is foreign up a blind alley. You must lake your own road.
   Guided by Mao Tse-tung's thought and directed by Comrade Chiang Ching, the revolutionary literary and art workers of the Society overcame many obstacles and gave the first public performance of the revolutionary symphonic composition Shachiapang on National Day, 1965. (See Peking Review, No. 28, 1967.) Its success gave great inspiration to the revolutionary musicians and made Yin think of introducing the piano into Peking opera. He set to work on this.
   It was only in April last year that they heard Comrade Chiang Ching's instruction that the piano should accompany Peking operas on contemporary revolutionary themes. This instruction was withheld from them for two and a half years by the handful of counter-revolutionary   revisionists.  That instruction gave revolutionary musicians the correct bearings for advance and inspired them tremendously.
   In May 1967, the Central Philharmonic Society organized a Mao Tse-tung's thought propaganda team and sent it to perform in Tien An Men Square. They put on a new item — an aria from the Peking opera Shachiapang sung to piano accompaniment. Thus the piano made its debut in the streets. The audience of workers, peasants and soldiers greeted this performance with enthusiasm.
   But the counter-revolutionary revisionists did not take their defeat lying down. Pretending to be more 'Left" than the Left, they put about such twaddle as "the piano is a criminal, and the pianist is even more of a criminal.'' "The piano must be smashed." They tried to shake the comrades' determination to revolutionize piano playing.
   Armed with the invincible thought of Mao Tse-tung and supported by Comrade Chiang Ching, the Society's revolutionary comrades remained firm in their determination. Abuse and sabotage by the class enemy were of no avail. With the enthusiastic cooperation of the revolutionary comrades of the China Peking Opera Troupe, in May this year, Yin Cheng-tsung completed the piano accompaniment for the chief arias of Li Yu-ho and Li Tieh-mei from The Red Lantern. On the eve of July 1, Comrade Chiang Ching and other leaders of the Cultural Revolution Group Under the Party Central Committee received the pianist, Yin Cheng-tsung, and Chien Hao-liang and Liu Chang-yu (singers respectively of the parts of Li Yu-ho and Li Tieh-mei) and highly appraised this introduction of the piano into Peking opera.
   The birth of this new form of proletarian art is a telling act of repudiation and a heavy blow dealt against the counter-revolutionary revisionist line in literature and art pushed by China's Khrushchov and his agents.

Some Artistic Characteristics

   The singing of the Peking opera The Red Lantern to piano accompaniment unites revolutionary political content with a high level of artistic form. It successfully combines Peking opera singing and traditional percussion instruments into a single unified whole with the piano. The piano not only accompanies but provides more vivid background and atmosphere. The artistic treatment of this accompaniment is in many respects unique.
   In the aria in which Tieh-mei sings: "Granny has just (old me about the revolutionary struggle — its heroism and sacrifices! Now I know that I was born and grew up in a lime of storm and stress,'1 the pianist gives the melody lightly with his right hand and a rolling flood of notes with his left, vividly suggesting Tieh-mei's leaping imagination as she thinks of the revolutionary struggle waged by her grandmother and father in earlier days. When she sings "I Hold the Shining Heel Lantern," the piano accompaniment uses swiftly running chords from low to high, drawing in the beat of gong and drum. In musical terms it forcefully conveys Tieh-mei's strong determination and noble ideals— to carry on the revolutionary cause of the older generations and carry the revolution through to the end.
   Take the passage sung by Li Yu-ho in prison: "Lofty Ideals Soar to the Heavens." Introducing it, live pianist uses a succession of contrasting high and low chords, chord against chord, and a militant, racing melody to describe the dedicated spirit and noble qualities of this revolutionary fighter who, though imprisoned, keeps the whole of China in his mind. In the piano cadenza which concludes the aria, the pianist uses a grand base of chords along with a swift flight of notes to create a magnificent atmosphere powerfully expressing the ideas inspiring Li Yu-ho — firm confidence in the enemy's defeat and the revolution's triumph. The reverberating notes of the cadenza are profoundly evocative.
   In the aria "All Have a Bright Red Heart," the pianist uses light and lively runs to depict Tieh-mei's bright and animated character and revolutionary optimism. Audiences find this music close to their hearts. In addition to the passages mentioned, many of the piano interludes are well composed, retaining the characteristics of Peking opera as well as developing certain new qualities. It can be said that this artistic treatment of The Red Lantern with piano accompaniment gives a penetrating and excellent exposition of the theme, story and characters of this Peking opera. As a means of artistic expression, this new, proletarian art form has demonstrated its robust vitality.
   The eight model revolutionary theatrical work;) and the birth of this new art form all confirm this truth: As long as they arm themselves with Mao Tse-tung's thought and resolutely implement Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line, revolutionary artists will enhance their ability to reform and utilize more forms of art to serve the workers, peasants and soldiers.

顶端 Posted: 2009-02-24 10:09 | [楼 主]
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