• Bright Sheng
  • Three Chinese Love Songs (1988)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • va, pf
  • Soprano
  • 10 min
  • (Chin) Wang Wei, Tu Fu, Lu Xun

Programme Note

Composer Note:

Three Chinese Love Songs (Dedicated to Leonard Bernstein) was requested by Mr. Seiji Ozawa as part of the commissioned works for the celebration of Mr. Bernstein’s 70th birthday at Tanglewood in August 1989. Prior to this I had just finished a large orchestral work for the New York Chamber Symphony: H’UN (Lacerations): In Memoriam 1966-1976, a work about the "Cultural Revolution" in China, of which I am a survivor and witness. This orchestral work was built on the intervals of minor seconds without any kind of melody or tune. Since it is about that tragic period in China, the work sounded harsh and dissonant. In this piece I felt I had achieved drama and expressiveness through dissonance.

At the same time, the inevitable call for the search of tonality in my writing, though not necessarily in the sense of triads, also was increasing daily. I needed to write something quite different. Therefore I was excited about the Tanglewood commission, an opportunity which enabled me to fulfill that need and to explore the other side of my writing. In that regard, setting Chinese folk songs is simply natural and appropriate.

This song cycle premiered August 26th, 1988 in a program entitled "Tributes to Song in Leonard Bernstein" at Tanglewood. The performers on that occasion were soprano Lisa Saffer, violist Burton Fine and pianist Yehudi Wyner.

—Bright Sheng