Zhao Jiping

Zhao Jiping
b. 1945, Shulu, Hebei
Zhao Jiping became internationally known as a composer for such ‘Fifth-Generation’ filmmakers as Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou and He Ping. Among his most famous film scores are those for Raise the Red Lantern (1991), To Live (1993) and Farewell My Concubine (1993). He is also a noted composer for the concert stage.
Son of the painter Zhao Wangyun, Zhao Jiping was trained at the Xi’an Conservatory of Music, majoring in composition and graduating in 1970. When the Central Conservatory reopened after the Cultural Revolution in 1978, Zhao was accepted there for postgraduate studies. Zhao entered the limelight as a film composer when Chen Kaige invited him to write music for Yellow Earth (1984). The music, close to its folk roots, was highly crafted and evocative of Chen’s cinematic expanse. In To Live and Raise the Red Lantern, Zhao’s colourful use of Chinese instruments, such as the banhu, xun and sheng, in combination with a Western orchestra met with critical acclaim. The incorporation of regional opera, especially operatic percussion passages, added even more brilliance and dramatic context to Farewell My Concubine, a story about two Jingju (Peking opera) stars. In 2000, Zhao received a commission from Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project to write a chamber work. Moon over Guan Mountains (scored for pipa, sheng, cello and tabla) was premiered at Tanglewood, and remained in the Silk Road Ensemble’s international repertory throughout 2002.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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