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and "Fishermen's Song"
Ren Guang is the first composer of China to have made a film famous
because of the film's title song. "Fishermen's Song" remains today one
of the best loved and most memorable songs of the Chinese people.
"Fishermen's Song" was composed one third of a century into the 20th
Century. Another third of a century later, Shen Xing-yang (Shen Sin-yan)
first recorded "Fishermen's Song" in the United States.
This November (2000) marks the Centenary of composer Ren Guang's
birth. Ren Guang was born November 9, 1900. In Chinese music history,
Ren Guang's name would forever be bonded with "Fishermen's Song".
It was June of 1934. The title song of a new film "Fishermen's
Song" took Shanghai by storm. It was the very first time in China's
history when any movie became known best to its audience by its musical
sound track. It started the movie boom. This famous sound track was
issued by the Baidai Record Company as Baidai 34442. The
composition was by Ren Guang. The famed actress Wang Renmei sang "Yu
Guang Qu (Fishermen's Song)". The Lyrics was by the female writer An E.
Composer Ren Guang himself played the piano accompaniment.
It was 1971 in Columbus Ohio. "Fishermen's Song" was first sung
in the U.S. It took the United States by storm. The Ohio State Chinese
Choir under the direction of Shen Sin-yan recorded this classic under
the Coronet label. Tan Tianyuan was the tenor soloist. This U.S. version
was for tenor and choir, with piano accompaniment. In 1973 the erhu and
piano version of "Fishermen's Song" was first recorded by Shen Sin-yan
and Lee Yuan-Yuan.
Ren Guang was born a hundred years ago in November. Ren Guang was
exposed to folk music and became a musician at very young age. In 1917,
upon graduation from Chengxian High School in Zhejiang Province, Ren
Guang enrolled in Shanghai's Zhendan University.
In 1919 Ren Guang travelled to Paris. He studied composition and
piano tuning, while working odd jobs to make a living. Between 1924 and
1927 Ren Guang worked for a French piano company in Saigon, Vietnam. Ren
Guang returned to Shanghai in 1928. Beginning in 1932 Ren Guang was
employed as Director of Music at the French owned Baidai Record Company.
While at Baidai, he organized a small Chinese instrumental ensemble, of
which Huang Yijun was a member. This ensemble recorded quite a few
arrangements and compositions by Ren Guang. While serving as Director of
Music, Ren Guang composed the popular instrumental piece "Colorful
Clouds Chasing the Moon". Today this classic instrumental composition is
popular both on the Mainland and on Taiwan, and all over the world.
Another popular composition the group under Ren Guang recorded was "The
Flowers are Blooming and the Moon is Full". "The Flowers are Blooming
and the Moon is Full" is today the favorite encore of the Chinese
Classical Orchestra of the Chinese Music Society of North America in
concerts throughout North America and Europe. Ren Guang also recorded a
large number of the compositions by Nie Er while at the Baidai record
Company. The classic "Spring at the Emerald lake" was recorded during
Ren Guang and An E were a fabulous team. Together they wrote
"Fishermen's Song" and a full opera "Hong Bo Quota. In "Hong Bo Quota,
which commemorates the battle of Tai-er Zhuang, An E wrote the story and
Iyrics, and Ren Guang wrote the music. In "Fishermen's Song" An E rote
the Iyrics which glued to the melody and the accompaniment. Their
artistic liaison is among the best musical teams in 20th Century China.
In 1937 Japan invaded China. In the same year Ren Guang returned
to parts to study music. In October 1938 Ren Guang came back to Asia,
organizing choral activities in China and Singapore (Beginning in the
spring of 1939), raising money for the resistance movement. In Singapore
he founded the Tongluo Choir. In the spring of 1940 Ren Guang started
teaching at the Yucai School in Chongqing. In Chongqing he conducted the
performance of "The Yellow River Cantata" and "Hong Bo Quota. In
November of 1940 Ren Guang left Chongqing to join the Xing Si Jun army.
In January of 1941 Ren Guang was murdered during the Wannan (southern
Anhui) Incident. Young composer Ren Guang gave his life in Jinhua,
While we think of Ren Guang and An E, we cannot forget the
incredible melody of "Fishermen's Song" would appear. "Fishermen's Song"
had such impact that composer Nie Er wrote a musical analysis of the
composition. In the history of Chinese instrumental music in the 20th
Century, Ren Guang's leadership in composing, performing, and recording
at Baidai in Shanghai had served to truly popularize ensemble and
orchestral music, two thirds of a century ago. When we think of the
early days of Chinese instrumental music recorded in Shanghai, the
refreshing sound of Ren Guang's "Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon",
"Spring at the Emerald Lake" and "Flowers Are Blooming and the Moon is
Full" would appear. It will soon be a century later, but the emotional
excitements are instantaneous.§
|Famous Works of Ren Guang |
"Fishermen's Song" (Lyrics by An E)
"Yue Guang Guang (Bright Bright Moon)"
"Farewell to Wannan"
"The Sorghum is Red"
"The New Lianhualao"
"Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon"
"Flowers Are Blooming and the Moon is Full"
"Hong Bo Qu - Remembering the Battle of Tai-er Zhuang" (Opera - with An E)
Ren Guang (Chinese: 任光; pinyin: Rèn Guāng; b. Zhejiang, November 9, 1900; d. January 1941), also known by a nom de plume, Ren Qianfa (任前发), was a noted Chinese composer of the early 20th century.
Ren studied in Paris beginning in 1919, and there acquired the techniques of music
composition. As a consequence, his works are influenced by Western
music, particularly in their harmonic accompaniment. Among his best
known compositions are "Fishermen's Song" (渔光曲, Yú Guāng Qǔ), which was
used as the theme song for a film, and "Colorful Clouds Chasing the
Moon" (彩云追月, Cǎi Yún Zhuī Yuè). He also invited the musician Huang Yijun
(黄贻钧) to compose "The Flowers are Blooming and the Moon is Full"
(花好月圆), which was included on a 1935 recording Ren Guang supervised.
He died in the Wannan Incident (also called the New Fourth Army Incident, during the Second Sino-Japanese War) in Wannan, southern Anhui, in January 1941.
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