Hsu, Tsang-houei

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Hsu, Tsang-houei

Hsu, Tsang-houei, Chinese composer, musicologist, and teacher; b. Changhau, Taiwan, Sept. 6, 1929. He studied violin in Tokyo from the age of 11, remaining in Japan until 1945, when he returned to Taiwan. He studied violin and composition at the National Univ. (1949–53), and in 1954 he went to Paris to study violin at the École César Franck and music history and analysis at the Sorbonne (1956–58). He also studied with Jolivet and Messiaen at the Paris Cons. In 1959 he returned to Taiwan, where his first concert (1960), which introduced avant-garde ideas to Taiwan audiences, met with both censure and enthusiasm. He taught advanced composition techniques and founded several organizations to promote contemporary music, including the Chinese Composers’ Forum (1961) and the Chinese Soc. for Contemporary Music (1969); he also was active in the League of Asian Composers. Hsu made extensive study of Taiwanese folk music, elements of which are integrated into his compositions. He co-founded the Centre for Chinese Folk Music Research (1967), and was appointed examiner in charge of folk-music research by the Taiwanese provincial government (1976). He held professorships at the National Academy of Arts, Soochow Univ., and the Coll. of Chinese Culture, and lectured throughout East Asia and the U.S. His early compositions show a variety of influences, including aspects of impressionism, atonality, and serialism, along with traditional Chinese and Taiwanese elements; his later works are less aggressively modern, but have a distinctive identity and unified style. His writings reflect his interest in folk music research.


dramatic: Opera: The Legend of White Horse (1979–87). Ballet: Chang-o Flies to the Moon (1968); The Peach Blossom (1977); Peach Blossom Girl (1983); Chen San and the 5th Madame (1985). ORCH.: Chinese Festival Overture (1965–80); 2 Movements for Strings (1970); White Sand Bay, sym. (1974); Spring for All for Piano and Traditional Chinese Orch. (1981). CHAMBER: Violin Sonata (1958–59); Quintet for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1960–87); 5 Preludes for Violin (1965–66); The Blind for Flute (1966–76); The Reminiscence of Childhood for Chinese Ocarina (1967); Clarinet Sonata (1973–83); Taiwan for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (1973); 3 Pieces for Hugin (1977); Dou-o’s Lament for Cello or Viola and Piano (1988); piano pieces. VOCAL: Choral pieces; songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire