Soong Fu-Yuan

Soong Fu-Yuan was born in Nanjing, China. From childhood he studied piano with his mother, Leng Lan Qin, who taught in two conservatories in Shanghai before her marriage. His father, Soong Hsi Lien, was a well known general during the Japanese invasion of China, and received the highest medal from China, as well as the Medal of Freedom from United States President Harry Truman.

Soong started composing as a child. His twin loves were Chinese poetry and Western classical music. At the age of 18 he moved to America to study composition. At that time the American new music was dominated by serialism and the avant-garde. Though Soong composed many piano, chamber, orchestral and operatic works, his music could not find an outlet since he refused to adhere to these new styles which he thought were artificial.

There were a few exceptions. In the late 1960’s his chamber music received performances by ensembles from the Chicago Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. In 1983 his play with music, Tao Yuan, was presented by the Bel Canto Opera in New York City in five performances, and in 1984, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to further develop Tao Yuan.

In 1989 Tchaikovsky Competition Laureate pianist Paul Rutman accidentally discovered Soong’s Poems for Piano. Astonished that these beautiful works had never been performed, he decided to record them. The CD received quick acceptance and praise after it was released in 1990. Leading critics said of the recording:

The sorrowful “Swallow Song” catches in the throat and will not go away. Each piece is a uniquely wonderful event. (Tom Vernier, CD Review)

The music touches the nerve center of the Tang poetry. It is totally accessible to the Western ear and totally inimitable. (William Zagorski, Musical Heritage Review)

The perfumes of a fanciful Cathay fairly fill the room. (Mike Silverton, Fanfare)

Lyrical and poetic, the music is profound. (Igor Kipnis, Stereophile)

The CD was played on many American classical music radio stations. In 1992 well-known radio host Robert Sherman asked Soong to compose music for The Little Fox, a favorite narrative of his, which they performed together and which has been performed many times since. In 1993 the first Act of his opera, Return to Paradise, was performed in a concert version in the Taipei Theater in New York City. In 1994 musicians from Canada, China and the U.S. performed his music in a concert at the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

In 1995, Soong was invited, along with four other outstanding Chinese American musicians, to give three concerts in Beijing and Shanghai. A one-hour program of the concert excerpts was broadcast nationally by China’s Central TV a number of times. In addition, he was invited to lecture and participate in discussions about new music in the composition departments of the Central Conservatory in Beijing as well as the Shanghai Conservatory. In 1996, the audio division of China’s largest television company, Beijing’s TVAC, issued three CD’s of Soong’s music: Poems for String Quartet, The Little Fox, excerpts from the opera Return to Paradise, and a reissue of Poems for Piano.

Mr. Soong is also the author of the article “Restoring the Ecosystem of American Classical Music through Audience Empowerment” in the Symphony Orchestra Institute’s Journal, Harmony magazine (April, 1998).

Soong Fu-Yuan — Gan Tang Shi (Poems of the Tang Dynasty)

Soong’s quartet is in five contrasting movements: Moonlight Before My Bed (Jing Ye Si), By a Quiet Pond (Chi Bien), Thoughts on an Ancient Battlefield (Diao Gu Zhan Chang Wen), Autumn Moon Festival (Zhong Qiu Yue), and Nostalgia on a Summer Day (Xia Ri Huai Xiang). A quartet with hauntingly beautiful Chinese sonorities and harmonies, and dissonant and neo-classical styles. Perfect for recitals, educational concerts, and multi-cultural programming.

Suited for:


For String Quartet, 15 minutes.
STR4-9940 . . . $39.00

Soong Fu-Yuan — Zhong Guo Xiao Jing (Little Scenes from China)

Soong’s quintet in the style of traditional Chinese music is in five short, contrasting movements depicting various scenes of China, old and new. The movements are New Year’s Day, A Little Boat on the River Li, Fast Ride on the South Sea, In the Moonlight, Thinking of a Place Far, Far Away, and Flower Drum Song. A beautiful work, full of energy and hauntingly beautiful sonorities and harmonies, perfect for recitals, educational concerts, multicultural programming and jobs.

Suited for:


For Woodwind Quintet, 11 minutes.
WW5-9830 . . . $39.00

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