Chinese Composers’ Great Leap Forward
From Los Angeles Times:
They are the first Chinese men and women allowed to study Western classical music after Mao’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, composers and musicians who have come to be known as Beijing Central Conservatory’s “Class of 1978,” named for the year they entered the school.
Their memories of the preceding period in which their families were shattered and their educations truncated include breaking into Red Guard storehouses of forbidden records, books and musical scores, and listening to Western pop music smuggled in by children of diplomats. When they were finally allowed to apply for admission and study, the experience was hardly open and free.
Composer Chen Qigang, 58, who made headlines last year as music director of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, recalls that “Suddenly, the government told you, ‘Yes, now you can go for entrance exams; the schools have reopened. . . .’ It was very fierce competition, only the best people got in. . . .