Published : 2023-03-02

Cheong Images of Chopin in the People’s Republic of China

Wai-Ling Cheong


Just as Poland capitalises on the worldwide popularity of Chopin’s music to export him as a cultural commodity, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has embraced Chopin as patriotism personified, a high-profile ‘cultural worker’ in exile who agonised over the crushing of the November Uprising in Poland in 1831. It was likely Fou Ts’ong winning third prize at the Fifth International Chopin Piano Competition in 1955 that triggered the PRC’s strategic promotion of Chopin. Unlike Fou, who had benefitted from the tutelage of Zbigniew Drzewiecki at Warsaw’s State College of Music (the present-day Fryderyk Chopin University of Music), Li Yundi, the first Chinese pianist to be awarded first prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition, in 2000, was trained at Shenzhen Art School. Understandably, this success story could not fail to boost the PRC’s claim on Chopin. The special case of Chopin in the PRC is even more striking when we shift our focus from charismatic performance platforms to Chopin’s treatment within academic circles. Through a critique of selected papers about Chopin published by People’s Music and Music Research, the PRC’s leading music journals, this study reveals how and to what extent Chopin was claimed and promoted above other Western classical composers, arguably to serve, first and foremost, ideological ends. With the onset of the decade-long Sino–US ambassadorial talks in 1958, held in Warsaw’s ‘Chopin Park’, as one main focus, the timeframe of this study is delimited to cover the period from the founding of the PRC in 1949 to c.1979, when the PRC established formal diplomatic relationships with the United States.


Reception, patriotism, Sino–US ambassadorial talks




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Citation rules

Cheong, W.-L. (2023). Cheong Images of Chopin in the People’s Republic of China . Chopin Review, (4-5), 78–95.

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