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Lv Wencheng and His Music named Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake

Who is Lv Wencheng?

Lv Wencheng
The Portrait of Lv Wencheng

Lv Wencheng(吕文成,1898-1981), born in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, the most famous Cantonese musician, composer and musical renovator specializing in playing and studying Cantonese-style music in modern China. His greatest contribution to Chinese music is largely inheriting the traditional classic music culture of China and in the meantime upgrading remarkably the tradition of China music in composition and performance. Lv Wencheng’s amelioration and improvement to Chinese music mostly develop China’s music into modernization, which is in unison with the development tendency of China in all aspects. His masterpieces are widespread among Chinese people.

Lv Wencheng was engaged on the composition, playing and singing of diversity of music in Guangdong province all his life. It was said that the original family name of Lv Wencheng was Yang, but he became a stepchild of a family with surname Lv when he was an infant, so his surname was also changed to be Lv. At the age of 3, due to many Cantonese people went northward to Shanghai for fortune, he also moved to Shanghai with his foster father. He led a poor life in Shanghai. When his was quite young, he worked as a child labor in a silversmith store. At the age of 10, he got educated at Guangzhao School free of charge. From then on, he began his musical learning after school. He indulged himself in Chinese traditional folk music and used to listen carefully to the playing of the old people. With his painstaking efforts, he has been a little famous when he was less than 20 years old. During the time of 1920s, he was quite famous nationwide in Shanghai where he lived since his childhood with his nursing father.

After the outbreak of The January 28 Incident(一.二八事变) also called Shanghai Incident in history, Shanghai lost its peace, Subsequently, he moved to Hong Kong and settled down in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, he was employed as the fixed artistic worker in many record companies like Xin Yue, He Sheng and Ge Lin etc. For a long time, Lv Wencheng worked for making or creating the musical records themed with Cantonese music and songs. In his life, he made innumerous records for many companies who later became much too famous in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia like Gao Heng, Bai Dai he Sheng Li and so on. Based on some uncompleted statistics, the number of the records themed with Cantonese music and songs played and sung by himself is more than 270. Due to the weakness, unhealthiness and oldness, he died in Hong Kong at the age of 83.

His Innovation to Traditional Music Performance

Lv Wencheng is good at playing the traditional musical instruments like Gao Hu(高胡) and Yang Qin(扬琴). In 1930s, he initially invented the steel-string-made Er Hu or Gao Hu or improved the traditional string of Er Hu or Gao Hu to be the steel string. Also, he adopted the playing way with clamping the body of Er Hu or Gao Hu between two legs, which tremendously enriched the expressive force of Gao Hu, and made Gao Hu became the chief musical instrument of Cantonese music. Besides, he also greatly innovated the timbre, volume and diapason of Gao Hu. He was crowned to be the Doctor of Er Hu in China. So in this way, he was nearly as famous as A Bing(阿炳), a blind musician of Wuxi who created the world-famous music named Er Quan Ying Yue(二泉映月) played in Er Hu.

There were more than 100 famous works of Cantonese music created by Lv Wencheng in his life. Among them, the most famous masterpieces are Ping Hu Qiu Yue(Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake, 平湖秋月), Bu Bu Gao(步步高), Die Lian Hua(蝶恋花), Qing Mei Zhu Ma(青梅竹马) and Jiao Shi Ming Qin(蕉石鸣琴). He music works is not only highlighted with the traditional Cantonese music but also mixed with some modern feature of western music. By the way, Ping Hu Qiu Yue, the representative music works of Lv Wencheng, is also closely connected a classic scene of West Lake, which shares the same name with this music. It is quite welcomed among the Chinese Elites.

Music named Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake

Music Named Autumn Moon
over the Calm Lake

Originally, the music named Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake is the old music, but we can not enjoy it any more as it vanished away. The current music sharing the same name was a masterpiece of Lv Wencheng. This music is also named Zui Tai Ping(醉太平, Drunk in Peace), and someone also thinks it originates from the famous music played in stringed instrument and wind instrument, but lately it is widely spreading in Canton. In 1930s, Lv Wencheng visited West Lake around Mid-Autumn Festival. He enchanted himself in the beauty of the West Lake, and he created a musical work themed with portraying the moon-night view of West Lake and eulogizing the wonderful scene of the nature. Gradually, it became famous and welcome. It is an excellent work of lyric music with pleasing, inspiring and fancy rhythm. In this classic music, listeners can imagine a romantic scene that the West Lake is a fairyland under the moonlight decorated with the silvery lake, elegant trees, pavilions, towers, pagodas and halls. The music shows a poetic imagery and also expresses the affection of the creator to nature and life. It is a perfect Chinese-style orchestral symphony played absolutely by Chinese music instruments like flutes, Dong Xiao, Gao Hu, Yangqin, Gu Zheng, Erhu, Pipa and also mixed with the melody from piano. It is a mixture of tradition and modernity and deserves listening.

Writer: David from Seeraa International
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