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A musical flight through 60 years

2009-09-27 08:55 BJT

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From the barracks ballads to patriotic songs from film themes to TV drama songs from China's own national "bel canto" to the popularity of pop, from the emergence of Hong Kong and Taiwan pop music to the prosperity of music all around the nation the development of the People's Republic of China covers all the aspects of modern music history. Like the economic expansion, new China's music industry, in the short 60 years, has achieved what many countries and regions have spent one hundred years or two to accomplish. Actually, the music history of new China is also a history of economy, culture, and social evolution.

March of the Volunteers was probably the first song made popular when the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. The song written by the noted poet and playwright Tian Han with music composed by Nie Er was first performed as the theme song of the 1935 Shanghai film "Children of Trouble Time." In June 1949, the song was chosen to be the national anthem for the soon-to-be declared People's Republic of China. The majestic melody and inspiring lyrics were the best expression of Chinese people's determination for fighting against the invaders and establishing a new nation.

"Ode to the Motherland," widely known as the second national anthem, was written in 1950 and became popular across the country the next year. Like "March of the Volunteers," the chorus reflects the Chinese people's love for the motherland and confidence in the future.

The 1950s was the first decade of the young nation. All walks of life were slowly recovering from years of wars so was the music field. "Let Us Sway the Oars," the theme song of the children's film "Flowers of Our Motherland," was the hallmark of that era. It is regarded as the foundation of new China's new music composition and has influenced the later twenty years.

Films are the best platform for promoting music. Songs like "My Motherland," "Meeting in Yurt," and "Playing My Favorite Lute" became the most popular songs of that era through the films "Shanggan Hill," "People on the Grassland," and "Railway Guerilla." Even when those films have faded from people's memory, the songs still remain.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of New China, a music and dance epic "East is Red" was staged at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 2nd, 1964. The marvelous production gave a retrospective look at the great cause from the May Fourth Movement in 1919 to the founding of the PRC.