Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tyzen Hsiao

Tyzen Hsiao is a Taiwanese composer of the neo-Romantic school. Many of his vocal works set poems written in , the mother tongue of the majority of the island's residents. His compositions stand as a musical manifestation of the Taiwanese literature movement that revitalized the island's literary and performing arts in the 1970s and 1980s.


Tyzen Hsiao's rich tonal style has earned him an international reputation as "Taiwan's ." His compositions include works for solo instruments and chamber ensembles, many works for solo voice, and large-scale pieces for orchestras and choirs with soloists.

Hsiao's most widely performed large-scale pieces include:
*''Formosa Symphony'', opus 49
*Violin Concerto in D, opus 50
*Cello Concerto in C, opus 52
*Piano Concerto in C minor, opus 53
*''1947 Overture'' for soprano, chorus and orchestra
*''Ode to Yu-Shan ''
*''Ilha Formosa: Requiem for the Formosan Martyrs''

Hsiao's art songs are often performed in Taiwan and many have achieved popular status. "Taiwan the Formosa" is regarded by many as the island's true national anthem. Hsiao used the song again to conclude his ''1947 Overture''. Other well-known art songs include "The Fairest Flower", "Eternal Hometown", a setting of Psalm 23 in Taiwanese, and "I Love Taiwan." He has also won acclaim for his folk song settings, such as "Brother Andon Goes to Market" and "The Grasshopper and the Rooster." Many of Hsiao's songs also exist in orchestral song versions.

Hsiao credits Rachmaninov, and Frédéric Chopin as important influences on his style, along with Presbyterian hymnody and, above all, . His songs combine the seemingly artless elements of folk song with romantic melodies and lush harmonies reminiscent of .

Hsiao's fusion of Taiwanese and international music traditions has influenced a number of younger composers, many of whom he has trained through teaching positions at the National Taiwan Normal University, the Tainan Women's College of Arts and Technology , and the Tainan Theological College. His music has been the subject of graduate research at the National Sun Yat-sen University in his hometown of Kaohsiung, the Florida State University in Tallahassee , and other institutions.

Life and career

Tyzen Hsiao was born in Taiwan's southern port city of . His father, a physician, served as a . His mother, a church pianist, began teaching him piano at an early age. As an adult Hsiao's career has encompassed composition, piano performance, and conducting.

*1959-1963 Majors in music at the National Taiwan Normal University. Teachers include Hsu Tsang-Houei , Kao Tsu-Mei and Li Fu-Mei .
*1963 Graduates from NTNU, begins performing and teaching.
*1965-1967 Studies at Musashino Music University in Japan. Teachers include Fujimoto Hideo and Nakane Nobue .
*1967 Appointed to faculty at National Taiwan Normal University.
*1971 Composes opera ''Jesus Christ'' on a libretto by his father.
*1974 Composes ''Fantasy Waltz for Two Pianos'', opus 38.
*1975 First "Hsiao Tyzen Night" at Jhongshan Hall, Hsimen in Taipei.

In 1977 personal and political circumstances led Hsiao to relocate to the United States. It was to be an eighteen-year stay.

*1977 Moves from Taiwan to Atlanta.
*1978 Composes ''The Vagabond'', setting his own Taiwanese text. Moves to Los Angeles. Begins fruitful musical collaborations with Taiwanese community.
*1980 Composes "March of Democracy", an art song that leads to his being forbidden to re-enter Taiwan by the Kuomintang government.
*1984 Composes art song "What a Beautiful Taiwan"
*1985 Composes ''The Highlander's Suite for Piano Quintet''
*1985-1987 Earns master's in composition at California State University, Los Angeles. Teachers include Byong Kon Kim and Milton Stern .
*1987 Composes ''Symphony Op. 49 Formosa''. Composes "Never Disregard Taiwan" . North American Taiwanese Professors Association releases recording ''Psalms of the Taiwanese: Tyzen Hsiao’s Compositions''.
*1988 Composes Violin Concerto in D, opus 50. Composes hymn "Taiwan the Formosa" . Violinist Ingrid Chun was the first to promote this piece in concerts throughout the USA with pianist Melody Kuo.
*1989 Named Humanity Award Laureate by Taiwanese-American Foundation
*1990 Composes Cello Concerto in C, opus 52, ''The Prelude for Pipe Organ'', and song "Mother's Hair."
*1991 ''Prelude for Pipe Organ'' wins first prize, California Music Teachers Association Composition Competition.
*1992 Ban lifted on Hsiao's return to Taiwan. Completes Piano Concerto in C minor, opus 53. Composes songs "The Fairest Flower" and "Eternal Homeland." Premier of Violin Concerto by Lin Cho-Liang and San Diego Symphony Orchestra . Premier of Cello Concerto by Carol Ou and the Taipei County Cultural Center Orchestra .
*1993 Struck by heart attack while composing ''1947 Overture''; recovers and completes the work.
*1994 Premier of piano concerto by Jonathan Tang with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Canada.

Hsiao returned to Taiwan in 1995. He was part of a wave of Taiwanese abroad who relocated to the island in response to the democratic reforms of the 1990s.

*1995 Composes ''Nocturne for Violin and Piano'', ''Fantasia for Flute and Piano'', and ''Toccata'' for solo piano. American premier of Cello Concerto by Felix Fan and the San Diego Symphony. Premier of ''1947 Overture'' by the Oakland Youth Orchestra with soprano Huang Mei-Hsing and Taiwanese-American choir.
*1996 Composes ''Formosa Trio'' for piano trio and ''Dragon Boat Festival'' for solo piano.
*1997 Tyzen Hsiao Music Association forms in Taiwan.
*1999 Composes ''The Angel of Formosa'' and ''Ode to Yu-Shan '' . Premier of ''Formosa Symphony'' by Russian Federal Symphony and ''The Angel of Formosa'' by Moscow Symphony in Moscow. Russian premier of violin concerto.
*2000 Composes cantata ''The Prodigal Son''. Performance of ''Ode to Yu-Shan '' presented as part of in Taipei. Russian premier of Cello Concerto and ''1947 Overture''; program includes Violin Concerto.
*2001 Premier of ''Ilha Formosa: Requiem for the Formosan Martyrs'' in Taipei. American premier takes place soon after in Lincoln Center, New York.
*2002 Suffers stroke while composing ''Love River Symphony''.

Hsiao's stroke in 2002 led him to relocate to Los Angeles for recovery. He suspended most of his composition activities. His ''Love River Symphony'' remains unfinished.

*2004 Awarded Taiwan's National Art Prize. Japanese premier of ''Ilha Formosa!''
*2005 Receives Wu Sam-lien Musical Contribution Award
*2006 Awarded Kaohsiung City Prize for the Arts
*2007 ''Formosa Dreaming'', a concert of major works for orchestra and voices by Hsiao and Fan-Long Ko, tours the United States after a sendoff concert in Taipei's Jhongshan Hall. The concert features the Symphony orchestra, the Formosa Festival Choir, and four vocal soloists from Taiwan conducted by Apo Hsu.


*''Tyzen Hsiao Orchestral Music'' , a two-disk set by Vakhtang Jordania and Russian Federal Orchestra with Moscow State Chorus. Includes ''Formosa Symphony'', Violin Concerto , Cello Concerto , Piano Concerto , tone poem ''The Angel of Formosa'', and ''1947 Overture''. Angelok 9912/13
*''Tyzen Hsiao Chamber Music.'' 1 CD issued by Tyzen Hsiao Music Association . Includes piano trio "The Formosa" and string quartet "Homeland st Dusk" with art songs and works for solo violin. Soprano: Chiong-Jong Lu. 1 Violin and Soloist: Shien-Ta Su. 2 Violin: Yu-Yuan Chen. Viola: Chan-Hang Ho. Cello: Su-Chu Tseng. Piano: Lina Yeh, Tyzen Hsiao.
*''Taiwan Affection, Tyzen Heart: Tyzen Hsiao Works for Solo Violin and Piano''. 1 CD. Issued by Tyzen Hsiao Music Association . Violin: Shien-Ta Su. Piano: Lina Yeh. Winner of Best Composer and Album of the Year prizes at the Taiwanese Golden Song Awards.
*''Tyzen Hsiao Works for Solo Voice and Piano''. 2 CDs issued by Tyzen Hsiao Music Association . Soprano: Li-Chan Chen. Piano: Tyzen Hsiao.
*''Tyzen Hsiao Choral Music'' 2 CDs issued by Tyzen Hsiao Music Association .
*''Psalms of the Taiwanese: Tyzen Hsiao’s Compositions'' . North American Taiwanese Professors Association.


The pronunciation of the composer's given name approximates the English words ''tie-run''. The family name ''Hsiao'' rhymes with the English word ''how''.

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