2016/01/15

Chou Wen-chung (周文中)

Chou Wen-chung (周文中) is a Chinese American composer of contemporary classical music. He emigrated in 1946 to the United States where he lives. 

Chou grew up in China and developed an early love for music. ("Sights and Sounds" an essay by Chou on early influences on his music). Qin music, in particular, has proved fertile for his future exploration. During the Second World War, he was persuaded to study civil engineering to help modernize China. In 1946, he turned down a scholarship in architecture at Yale University in order to pursue music, studying with Nicholas Slonimsky at the New England Conservatory and with Edgard Varèse and Otto Luening in New York.

 
Chou Wen-chung (right)

In 1954, he became the first technical assistant at Columbia's Electronic Music Laboratory and was concurrently appointed director of a research Project on Chinese music and drama. This research reinforced his own aesthetic convictions and led him to synthesize theories of calligraphy, qin, single tones and I Ching, all of which represent new ground in his compositional thinking. As chairman of the Music Division at Columbia University, he was instrumental in providing its composition program with a clear sense of artistic vision. Chou also distinguished himself as vice-dean of the School of the Arts and director of the Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music at Columbia University. His notable students include Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Tan Dun, Chinary Ung, Ge Gan-ru, Bright Sheng, James Tenney, Jing Jing Luo, Michael Rosenzweig, Faye-Ellen Silverman, and Jacques-Louis Monod.

More about Chou Wen-chung


Biography of Chou Wen-chung

Chou Wen-chung’s earliest work, Landscapes for orchestra (finished in 1949 and premiered by Leopold Stokowski with the San Francisco Symphony in 1953), is often cited as the first composition...