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ClassicsOnline Home » SHI, Y.: Symphony No. 1 / Horn Concerto, 'Memory'
SYMPHONY NO. 1
Composed in 1960, Shi Yongkang's Frst Symphony has drawn its material from
the revolutionary historical course from the birth of the Chinese Communist
party in 1927 to the junction of the main forces of the Chinese Workers' and
Peasants' Red Army in Jinggang Mountains. Jiangxi, in 1927.The symphony expresses
the fighting career of the Chinese communists, who, in the dark old China, advanced
bravely wave upon wave seeking the truth. The first movement, Overture Daybreak
is in ternary form. The deep slow introduction leads to the depressing heavy-first
theme, which displays the calamity of the Chinese people under the rule of the
warlords at the beginning of this century. The solemn second theme reflects
the awakening of the people. It was the Marxism that brought the people light
and hope. The allegro second movement Armed Uprising is in sonata form. It takes
as material the three armed uprisings of the Shanghai workers under the leadership
of the Communist Party. The primary theme expresses the vigorous pound of the
people's armed forces against the reactionary rule, while thesecondary theme
presents the people's striving for a new victory. The slow third movement Mourning
in ternary form expresses the people's mourning for the martyrs and their deep
thinking about the way and the future of the revolution. The fourth movement,
finale, The Jinggang Mountains, is in sonata-rondo form. The foundation of the
Communist base area in the Jinggang Mountains opened up a triumphant chapter
of the Chinese revolution. With unconstrained magnificent tones the symphony
enthusiastically extols the great victory of the people's revolution.
Memory is a horn concerto composed by Shi Yongkang in 1962 in commemoration
of the revolutionary martyrs. On the title page of the score, the composer cites
a poem by Yin Fu, a Communist poet who was murdered by Kuomintang in 1931. The
poem reads as follows:
Let the dead be dead!
They will never shed their blood in vain.
We should never grieve and sigh,
There is still a long way in front of us.
They have done their duty,
We should go on fighting.
By this concerto the composer gives his expression to his grief for the martyrs
and enhances the confidence and courage of the successors. The single movement
concerto is fundamentally in sonata form, yet the formative characteristics
of the rondo and the compound ternary are mixed in it. At the beginning, the
primary theme appears in the higher register. The deep largo melody expresses
the people's memory of and their reverence for the revolutionary martyrs. The
secondary theme in the rhythm of successive triplets is powerfully dynamic.
It is fully developed in the development, describing the older generation of
revolutionaries struggling bravely, one stepping into the breach as another
fell. After that, the dramatic change of the music expresses the injury and
death of the martyrs. In the following cadenza, with colourful techniques, the
music reveals their lofty inner world. In the recapitulation, the primary theme
is played on the orchestra as the culmination, in which the composer portrays
the lofty image of the martyrs in a magnificent manner. In the coda, the primary
theme is repeated on the muted horn, which once again highlights the meaning
of the concerto -- the people's profound memory of the martyrs.
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SHI, Y.: Symphony No. 1 / Horn Concerto, 'Memory'