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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Eight Memories in Watercolor (1978),
G Schirmer Inc
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
15 Minutes

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Programme Note
Tan Dun Eight Memories in Watercolor (1978),
Composer Note:

(In a New Year's Eve, We met. New Year bells had just finished ringing when friends asked Lang Lang to play. It would be everyone's fortune to hear the first music of the New Year. Lang Lang humbled, agreed, and played. Everyone was mesmerized by his performance. I was actually speechless for a long while, but nobody knew why. I was very touched, and couldn't really believe my ears. 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, even though he hadn't been born then. I heard the voice inside me of 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, where I am going. Lang Lang is a poet and has magical powers: he could 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.)

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 just opened its doors, I was immersed in studying Western classical and modern music, but I was also homesick. I longed for the folksongs and savored the memories of my childhood. Therefore, I wrote my first piano work as a diary of longing. The work 15 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, in renaming titles, order of the pieces, and overall structure, according to Lang Lang's suggestions.

-- Tan Dun

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