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Tseng, "Tyzen Hsiao, a native Taiwanese composer and his '1947 Overture,' " 2004

USC thesis in Music.
August 24, 2009

Yi-Jung Tseng, D.M.A.

Abstract (Summary)
Tyzen Hsiao is a patriotic composer dedicated to the revival of Taiwanese folk culture and Taiwan's independence. A strong nationalism is the common characteristic of his works. The compositional principal of Tyzen Hsiao is to combine vernacular musical elements with Western compositional techniques.

Unfortunately, because many of his works are sung in Taiwanese and the texts are based on poems related to civil liberty and democratic movements, his name appeared on the Kuo-Ming-Tan's blacklist during the martial law period. Therefore, his works were not allowed to be performed under the control of the KMD. Furthermore, he was exiled to the USA for more than a decade.

1947 Overture , recognized worldwide as "The greatest symphonic poem for Taiwanese," is about twenty minutes long and is one of the most remarkable pieces of Tyzen Hsiao. It was composed in 1994 to express his feelings about the Democratic movement in which many Taiwanese were killed by the Chinese. The title refers to the date February 28, 1947, the day on which this tragedy took place (now called simply the "228 tragedy" by the Taiwanese people). This piece describes Taiwan's four-hundred-year struggle for freedom from governments like the Kuo-Ming-Tan.

The structure of the piece is based on the evolution of the story of Taiwan's history. There are six distinct sections; the prelude, which represents the anguished cries of the Taiwanese, followed by the 'folk song' sections including The Bird Crying for Help and Sorrowful Song and representing the Japanese domination of Taiwan. The first episode follows, using material from the prelude and representing the transition from Japanese imperialism to the Chiang Kai-Shek regime, after which occurs the central section, entitled Love and Hope , which reflects upon the "228 Tragedy". Next comes the second episode, also using material from the prelude and representing another change in regime, this time to the Democratic Party. The final section, "Evergreen Taiwan", symbolizes the ever-present longing of the Taiwanese to transform their homeland into the ideal country.

Advisor: Dehning, William