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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Eight Memories in Watercolor (for piano) (1979)
G Schirmer Inc
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
15 Minutes

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Programme Note
Tan Dun Eight Memories in Watercolor (for piano) (1979)
Related works:
Eight Memories in Watercolor for guitar duo

Composer Note:
On New Year's Eve, we met. The New Year bells had just rung when friends asked Lang Lang to play the first music of the year for everyone's fortune. Lang Lang, humbled, agreed to play. We were mesmerized by his performance. I was actually speechless for a long while and couldn't really believe my ears. I was very touched. Lang Lang played Floating Clouds, one of my first piano pieces written more than twenty years ago (four years before Lang Lang's birth). Lang Lang's interpretation was pure as water. I almost thought that I had written this work for him. I heard my voice inside his playing; I could smell the earth of my homeland. It is a real gift when a musician can play a piece that inspires me to think about where I came from and where I am going. Lang Lang is a poet and has magical powers; he can tell an unending story. In his storytelling, I hear the voice of the human soul and the silence of nature. I do believe Lang Lang is one of the most outstanding pianists of our time. He would premiere Eight Memories in Watercolor.

Eight Memories in Watercolor was written when I left Hunan to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. It was my opus one. The Cultural Revolution had just ended, China had just opened its doors, and I was immersed in studying Western classical and modern music but was also homesick. I longed for folksongs and savored the memories of my childhood. Therefore, I wrote my first piano work as a diary of longing. The work is subdivided into eight short pieces:

1. Missing Moon
2. Staccato Beans
3. Herdboy's Song
4. Blue Nun
5. Ancient Burial
6. Floating Clouds
7. Red Wildemess
8. Sunrain

Pieces 2, 3, 4, 8 are based on my favorite folksongs from my childhood in Hunan. I composed the melodies of the other four. Since then, choreographers Chiang Ching and Muna Tseng set this work to modern dance. Pianist Fou Ts'ong got to know this work through Chiang and performed four of the pieces. In 2001, I met Lang Lang, and he told me he wanted to premiere the complete Eight Memories in Watercolor in his concerts, for which I am very grateful. I made slight revisions to the work by renaming titles, reordering the pieces, and amending the overall structure according to Lang Lang's suggestions.

— Tan Dun

  • Nonesuch:
  • Soloist(s)
    Lang Lang
    Duetsche Grammophon:
  • Soloist(s)
    Susan Chan
  • Soloist(s)
    Shen Lu
    Steinway & Sons:
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