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One Hundred Years of Chinese Piano Music: Embracing Change, Encountering Challenge, Establishing Character

A Lecture-Recital by Dr. Jennifer Chu

Monday, February 27
8:00 PM 

Contact: Dr. Christopher Fisher, Professor of Piano (




In 1915, March of Peace by Zhao Yuan-Ren became the first piano piece written by a Chinese composer to be published in China. This brief, simplistic, and unassuming work ushered in a new era of music composition in China: piano music written in the Western classical idiom. Adopting a new musical language is challenge enough, yet Chinese composers throughout the 20th century further had to contend with such artistically disruptive events as the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Despite these obstacles, the nascent musical idiom took hold and blossomed into a dynamic expressive confluence of East and West. 


In this lecture-recital, we will explore the development of Chinese piano music against the historical backdrop of the twentieth century, tracing its trajectory to the present day. Through performances of selected works spanning the century, audiences will gain an appreciation for how quickly composers assimilated the Western classical style while preserving their own cultural uniqueness, resulting in a musical language that is both universal and remains true to its creators’ heritage.




Zhao Yuan-Ren (1892-1982) -  March of Peace (1915) & An Incidental Idea (1917)

He Lu-Ting (1903-1999) - Berceuse (1934)

Chen Pei-Xun (1921-2006) - Guangdong Folk Tune (1952), The Street Peddler

Chu Wang-Hua (b. 1941) - Xinjiang Capriccio (1978)

Ye Xiao-Gang (b. 1955) - Namucuo op. 53 (2006)

Yao Chen - Animé (2018)




Jennifer Chu is Professor of Piano at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. Prior to joining ECNU in 2021, she was Director of Secondary Piano and faculty member of the Keyboard Studies department at The Juilliard School, where she also taught classes in Music History and Music Theory.


As a pianist, Dr. Chu made her orchestral debut at age thirteen with the Rockland Symphony Orchestra and has performed with ensembles such as the South Orange Symphony Orchestra, the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, the Festival Orchestra in Toledo, Spain, and the Princeton University Orchestra. As a recitalist, Dr. Chu has toured in Spain as part of International Piano Festivals, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, and the Mozarteum Festival in Salzburg. She has garnered awards at the Steinway Society of Boston competition, the Five Towns Music and Arts Competition, the Bradshaw and Buono Piano Competition, and the Wideman Piano Competition. Her performances have been deemed “powerful” and “winning” by the New York Times. Dr. Chu is privileged to count among her musical mentors Jerome Lowenthal, Solomon Mikowsky, Elizabeth DiFelice, and members of the Brentano String Quartet.


A native of New York state, Dr. Chu earned the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from The Juilliard School where she was awarded the 2012 Richard F. French Prize for her dissertation. She also holds degrees and scholarships from Manhattan School of Music and Princeton University. Dr. Chu currently resides in Shanghai with her husband and son.

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