This is the most famous musician and songwriter after the founding of New China

Xian Xinghai (June 13, 1905 – October 30, 1945), male, formerly known as Huang Xun and Kong Yu, ancestral home in Panyu, Guangdong Province (now in Lanhe Town, Nansha District, Guangzhou City), born in Macao, was a famous composer and pianist in modern China, known as “people’s musician”. In 1926, he studied music at Peking University, and in 1928, he studied music at Shanghai National Conservatory of Music. In 1929, he went to Paris to study with the famous violist Pani O ‘Bedofil and the famous composer Paul Ducasse. After returning to China in 1935, he actively participated in the anti-Japanese national salvation movement. In 1938, he went to Yan ‘an and later served as the head of the music department of Lu Xun Academy of Arts. He joined the Communist Party of China in June 1939. In October 1945, due to overwork and malnutrition, his lung disease became increasingly serious, and Xian Xinghai died of illness in Moscow.

This is the most famous musician and songwriter after the founding of New China Photo 2
This is the most famous musician and songwriter after the founding of New China Photo 4

Chinese name

Xian Xinghai

Foreign name

Sinn Sing Hoi


Huang Xun, Kong Yu



Ethnic group

The Han nationality

Place of Birth


Date of birth

June 13, 1905

Date of death

October 30, 1945


Composer and pianist

Graduate School.

Paris National Conservatory

Have faith in


Major achievement

In 1939, he composed the Yellow River Cantata.

Representative works

“On the Taihang Mountain” “To the enemy’s Rear” “Yellow River Cantata” “Production Movement Cantata”


Qian Yunling [2]

TV series of the same name

Xian Xinghai







Xian Xinghai was born into a poor family in Macau on June 13, 1905.

Xian Xinghai went to Singapore with his mother, Huang Suying, when he was 6 years old and enrolled in Yangzheng School in Singapore. Teacher District Jianfu of Yangzheng School, the first to appreciate Xian Xinghai’s musical talent, and selected him to enter the school’s military band, so that he began to contact Musical Instruments and musical training.

In order to let the child receive a better education, in 1918, his mother tried her best to come to Guangzhou, and sent Xian Xinghai to Lingnan University (now Sun Yat-sen University) at the age of 13 to learn the violin and begin formal music courses.

After entering Lingnan University, Sin Xinghai relied on selling books, paper and pens for two hours a day and joining the Lingnan Bank Band to support his tuition and food expenses. He played the flute in the band, and later became the conductor of the orchestra of the attached High school. Because he played the clarinet with great charm, he got the reputation of “Southern flute player”, and even Peizheng High School invited him to be a music teacher and orchestra conductor.

Study in France

In the spring of 1926, Xian Xinghai was admitted to the Music Study Hall of Peking University and made a living as an assistant in the school library, during which he studied with composer Xiao Youmei and Russian violin professor Tonov.

In 1928, Xian Xinghai entered the Shanghai National Conservatory of Music, majoring in violin and piano, but was forced to drop out due to student protests.

In 1929, he went to Paris for work-study, and Xian Xinghai made a living by running restaurants and doing chores in barbershops.

In 1934, Xian Xinghai was admitted to the advanced composition class of the Paris Conservatoire to study composition and conduct. He was the first Chinese examinee in the class, and was nearly stopped from entering the examination room by the French door police because he was not gorgeously dressed. After the examination, the examiner, Paul Ducasse, announced on behalf of all the judges: “We have decided to give you an honorary award, and in accordance with the Academy’s tradition, you can make your own material claims.” Xian Xinghai only said the word “meal ticket”, and could not speak again.

National salvation creation

In 1935, Xian Xinghai returned to China after graduation, and devoted himself to Anti-Japanese War songs and national salvation music activities, composing a large number of mass songs, and composing music for progressive films such as “Top Gun”, “Youth March”, drama “Resurrection” and “Thunderstorm”. At the same time, he was invited by Pan Xulun, a famous educator and accountant, and the Shanghai Cultural Salvation Society. The music training class of Lixin Accounting School (now Shanghai Lixin Accounting and Finance College), established with Lu Ji and He Shide, trained a group of musical talents such as Ma Xin, Meng Bo, Yang Zuoming, Zou Bozong and Lu Jianguang, and made an indelible contribution to the development of music art in China during the period of anti-Japanese national salvation. Later, he participated in the second team of Shanghai National Salvation Drama, and went to Wuhan to be responsible for the national salvation singing movement with Zhang Shu. After the outbreak of the Anti-Japanese War in 1937, he joined the second wartime drama team of the Shanghai Drama Circle and carried out anti-Japanese literature and art propaganda.

On one occasion, Xian Xinghai participated in a campaign by the Shanghai Students’ Federation to save the country from extinction. The Kuomintang authorities sent security teams to the scene to stop the students, and the standoff was tense. At this time, the young poet Secke gave Xian Xinghai a poem he had written. Xian Xinghai, filled with anger, recited the poem twice, leaning against the wall, and wrote the score in just five minutes – “Gun mugout/march forward in unison/do not hurt the people/do not hit their own people /…” The song “National Salvation Army Song” was sung among the students on the spot, and then the common people present and even the soldiers of the security team also sang along, and many people cried while singing.

Life in Yan ‘an

This is the most famous musician and songwriter after the founding of New China Photo 6

In September 1938, Xian Xinghai received an invitation telegram from all the teachers and students of “Lu Xun Art Academy” in Yan ‘an. So he said happily to his wife Qian Yunling, “Let’s go to Yan ‘an.” Said to go, this November, two people hand in hand from Han to Yan ‘an. They became revolutionary companions along the way.

In the winter of 1938, Xian Xinghai gave up his generous treatment and went to Yan ‘an to serve as the director of the music department of Lu Xun Art College, and took part-time classes in Yan ‘an “Women’s University”. At Luyi, he took major courses in music theory and composition, as well as teaching music history and conducting. In the year and a half in Yan ‘an, he entered the peak of creation, composing the “military and People’s March”, “Production Movement Chorus”, “Yellow River Chorus”, “September 18th Eighth Chorus” and other works. Politically, he pursued progress and joined the Communist Party of China in June 1939.

The Yellow River Cana, composed by the poet Guang Weiran, has also become a masterpiece through the ages. There are many people singing “the wind is roaring, the horse is barking”, to the front line of the Anti-Japanese War.

Under the harsh conditions in Yan ‘an, the Party Central Committee decided to give Xian Xinghai a monthly allowance of 15 yuan, while Commander Zhu De’s monthly allowance was only 5 yuan. In addition, Lu Yi’s teaching assistants have 6 yuan and the instructors have 12 yuan. Xian Xinghai can eat meat twice a week, rice twice, and an extra soup at each meal. All these reflect the Party organization’s respect for special talents.

Death in the Soviet Union

In May 1940, Xian Xinghai went to the Soviet Union to conduct post-production and soundtrack for the large-scale documentary Yan ‘an and the Eighth Route Army. On 22 June 1941, with the outbreak of the Soviet-German war, production was halted. He wanted to return to Yan ‘an via Xinjiang, but because the local warlord Sheng Shicai was anti-Communist and the transportation was interrupted, it was not possible, and he was forced to be detained in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Under the very difficult wartime conditions of supply, he successively completed the Symphony of National Liberation (the “First Symphony”), the Sacred War (the “Second Symphony”), the orchestral suite “Manjiang Kang”, the symphonic poem “Amancerda” and a solo piece on the theme of ancient Chinese poetry. His lung disease became more and more serious due to overwork and malnutrition. In early 1945, the Soviet authorities sent him to the Kremlin Hospital in Moscow for treatment. As soon as he was admitted to the hospital, Xian Xinghai began to compose the orchestral “Chinese Rhapsody”. But the disease was merciless, although under Li Lishan’s travel, with the instructions of Stalin, the leader of the Communist Party of the Union (Bolshina), and with the assistance of the International Relief Association of the Soviet Union, Xian Xinghai was admitted to a hospital in Moscow, but due to serious blood cancer and chronic diseases, the doctor could not return to the sky, and died on October 30, 1945, at the age of 40, Li Lishan and his wife took care of the funeral. Together with the Soviet side, they held a grand burial ceremony for him. The eulogy was delivered by the famous Soviet musician Mulageli, who later composed the music for “Moscow – Beijing”.

Xian Xinghai was buried in a cemetery near Moscow. His ashes were placed in a small gray marble casket with an oval photograph of the musician in the center, surrounded by a satin-made bouquet and engraved in gold Russian: Chinese composer, patriot and Communist: Huang Xun (after going to the Soviet Union, he took his mother’s surname).

On November 14, 1945, all walks of life in Yan ‘an held a memorial service for Xian Xinghai.

English name

According to Xian Xinghai himself personally signed the English name is “Sinn Sing Hoi”, in Cantonese (Cantonese) transliteration. According to the principle of the master of the name, all sectors of society should not arbitrarily use the Chinese pinyin “Xian Xinghai” as their English name, which was gradually implemented after 1978.

In Guangzhou and the Guangfu area of Guangdong Province, place names and road names were transliterated in Cantonese during the Republic of China period, similar to the practice in Hong Kong and Macao today. Some places, such as Singapore and Malaysia, still allow ethnic Chinese to choose their own Cantonese or Hokkien spellings of English names.

Personality quality

Xian Xinghai’s life experience can be described as rich and difficult. In the course of his short 40-year life, he experienced the transformation from the son of an ordinary poor boatman, to a musician, and then to a proletarian revolutionary. The reason why Xian Xinghai can reach a higher realm of life is directly related to his own experience, ability, pursuit of ideological realm, and his own character and style. Xian Xinghai’s personality can be summarized in the following aspects:

(1) Fortitude, perseverance, self-improvement. This is the most prominent characteristic of Xian Xinghai’s personality. Xian Xinghai lived in an era when the Chinese nation was suffering from internal and external troubles and poverty, and the misfortune of the nation made the life of every Chinese family more difficult. Xian Xinghai, whose father died early and whose mother worked odd jobs to support his family, epitomized the lives of millions of Chinese families at the turn of the last century. However, Xian Xinghai did not give up his pursuit of ideals because of his poor family, and he developed the habit of hard work and perseverance from an early age, and developed the quality of perseverance and self-improvement. Therefore, he was able to self-motivate in the case of food shortage, malnutrition, and illness, and wrote the world-famous Yellow River Cana.

  1. Aim high. It is a very important part of traditional Chinese culture to be ambitious in life. More than two thousand years ago, Confucius taught his disciples to be “self-cultivation to respect”, “self-cultivation to peace,” and “self-cultivation to peace.” The neo-Confucianists of the Southern Song Dynasty 张栻 believed that the ideal moral personality should be able to “preach and help the people”. These ancient sayings have inspired generations of children from poor backgrounds to pursue their ideals and become pillars of the country. This ideal moral personality is also very well reflected in Xian Xinghai, although Xian Xinghai was born in poverty, but the ambition of his life is to create Chinese symphonies, and make China become a world music power. In order to realize the ideal of life, he went to France alone to work and study, and lived a hard life, so that he fainted from hunger several times, but he did not hesitate to go back, and finally admitted to the Paris Conservatory of Music, and took a solid step for the realization of the ideal.
  2. Seeking truth and being practical. Xian Xinghai’s truth-seeking and pragmatic style is mainly reflected in his academic style: First, he correctly judge and grasp the direction of the realistic needs of Chinese popular culture, and create the path of revolutionary music creation for Chinese people; Second, he explored the combination of Chinese and Western distinctive national characteristics, for the people can accept the way of national music creation. In the five years from 1935 to 1940, Xian Xinghai wrote hundreds of Anti-Japanese War songs, which injected strong spiritual impetus into the national liberation movement. If a composer’s works are to be accepted by the people, he must adopt the music language that the people are familiar with. Xian Xinghai has dug deeply into the national music language, and his works have distinct national characteristics and are accepted and loved by the people.

Character evaluation

Xian Xinghai is a pioneer of the new music of the Chinese nation. In his lifetime, he composed more than 200 popular songs, 4 choruses, 2 operas (one of which is unfinished), 2 symphonies, 4 symphonic suites, a symphonic poem, an orchestral rhapsody, as well as many instrumental solos, ensembles and a large number of art songs, and also wrote many musical papers.

Xian Xinghai was not only a great musician, but also a proletarian revolutionary who made great contributions to the cause of China’s War of resistance. His musical works were not only widely sung during the national War of resistance, but also became a clarion call to awaken the national consciousness, and were still loved by the people more than 60 years after his death. The perspective of Xian Xinghai’s personality quality from his life story, and the analysis of the historical cultural gene and realistic soil generated by his personality quality will have a good reference significance for us to carry forward the excellent cultural tradition and humanistic spirit of the Chinese nation in the process of constructing the socialist core value system and the common spiritual home of the Chinese nation. On September 14, 2009, he was named one of the 100 heroes who made outstanding contributions to the founding of New China.

Xian Xinghai became a celebrity when he returned from his studies at the Paris Conservatoire. The Kuomintang wanted to use him to write anthems, and mercenary businessmen paid him large sums of money to write commercial songs such as “There are many beauties in Peach Blossom Den”, but he was not moved. He carefully arranged music for the progressive films “Resurrection”, “Thunderstorm”, “Sunrise” and “Singing in the middle of the night”, and did not ask for any reward in order to resist Japan and save the nation.

Inscription for him “for the people’s musician Xian Xinghai condolences.”

Xian Xinghai is another great people’s musician after Nie Er in the history of modern Chinese music. He insisted on and developed the revolutionary music tradition starting from Nie Er, and deeply reflected the great reality of the Chinese people’s revolution and national liberation with broader themes, genres and richer artistic techniques. He created a series of musical works with strong spirit of The Times, distinctive national style and originality, which had a wide and lasting influence among the people.

His conducting was very fresh, especially the chant “Get up! Get up! Get up! …” The first “up” waved forward with his left hand, the second “up” waved with his right hand, and the third “up” both hands waved upward together, and followed a big step forward, which was very provocative and aroused the emotions of the audience present.

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