Tan Dun Biography (BBC)
Tan Dun reached an enormous worldwide audience in 2000 with his Oscar-winning score for Ang Lee’s film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; but already before that his concert music had met with an enthusiastic reception in Europe and America as well as in the Far East. He was born and grew up in a village in the Hunan province of China; during the Cultural Revolution he spent two years planting rice.
He developed his musical skills in the local community, and then joined the local Peking Opera troupe. When the Central Conservatory in Beijing was reopened in 1978, he became a student in its composition department; this brought him into contact with visiting teachers including Alexander Goehr, George Crumb, Hans Werner Henze and Toru Takemitsu. In 1986 another visiting lecturer, the Chinese-American composer Chou Wen-Chung, arranged for him to continue his studies at Columbia University in New York.
At their conclusion, he decided to remain in the United States, making his home in Manhattan. But he is also a frequent visitor to Europe; he was Composer/ Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 1996 to 1999, and was also director of a multi-cultural, multi-media festival for the Flemish Radio Orchestra.
Tan Dun’s music blends the mainstream Western tradition and many elements of European modernism with a strong interest in the Chinese musical tradition in which he had grown up – not only its specific instrumental and vocal sounds, but also its basis in melody rather than harmony, and its underlying philosophy. His breakthrough piece, On Taoism, written in Beijing in 1985, and his series of works called Orchestral Theatre reinvent the symphony orchestra as a medium of ritual and meditation. His 1996 opera Marco Polo (which won him the prestigious Grawemeyer Award), has a libretto by the English writer and critic Paul Griffiths about a celebrated early traveller from the West to the East; his Heaven Earth Mankind (Symphony 1997), written for the return of Hong Kong to China, combines a large orchestra and children’s choir with an ancient set of Chinese bells; his 1998 Peony Pavilion, a music-theatre piece on which he collaborated with the director Peter Sellars, is based on a traditional Peking opera; his 2000 Today: A World Symphony for the Millennium is a setting of Chinese, European and Biblical texts.
Tan Dun’s Water Concerto belongs to a series of works highlighting natural materials, alongside the Water Passion After St Matthew written for the Bach anniversary in 2000, the 2002 opera Tea: A Mirror of Soul, which makes use of ceramic, stone and paper instruments, and Inventions for Paper Instruments and Orchestra, written for the opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Other major works include The Map, a concerto for cello, video and orchestra premiered by Yo-Yo Ma in Boston in February 2003, and Secret Land, for 12 cellos and orchestra, first performed by the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle in June 2004.
Profile © Anthony Burton
Tan Dun Biography (Wikipedia)
Tan Dun (simplified Chinese: 谭盾; traditional Chinese: 譚盾; pinyin: Tán Dùn,; born 18 August 1957) is a Chinese contemporary classical composer, pianist, viola d'amore player and conductor, most widely known for his scores for the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, as well as composing music for the medal ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His works often incorporate audiovisual elements; use instruments constructed from organic materials, such as paper, water, and stone; and are often inspired by traditional Chinese theatrical and ritual performance. In 2013, he was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He has won numerous awards for his works, including an Academy Award, a Grammy Award and a BAFTA award.
Tan Dun Tracks