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Violin Concerto “Butterfly Lovers”

The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo (梁山伯) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), whose names form the title of the story. The title is often abbreviated to Liang Zhu (梁祝). This violin concerto is composed in the winter of 1958, debuted by Yu Lina in Shanghai the next year and very well-received by the audience. The work consists of three major parts, namely “Pledge the Oath as Brothers in Caoqiao”, “Yingtai Fights Against Marriage” and “Becoming Butterflies Before the Tomb” arranged in the sonata form: exposition, development and recapitulation. With elements of Yue opera and fusion between symphony and Chinese operatic approach, the rise of the most prominent Chinese violin concerto in the music history of China has created a new genesis of enthnicized symphony. Through the adaptation for Chinese orchestra by Mr. Zhang Dasen, the work has gained even richer flavors.

The story was selected as one of China’s Four Great Folktales by the “Folklore Movement” in the 1920s—the others being the Legend of the White Snake (Baishezhuan), Lady Meng Jiang, and The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid (Niulang Zhinü).[1][2] Six cities in China have collaborated in 2004 on a formal application for the Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity[3] on the legend at UNESCO,[4] submitted in 2006 through the Chinese Ministry of Culture.

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