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Liu Huan and His Music

A graduate with a major in the French language, a university teacher, a top singer on stage, these three different titles belong to one person, Liu Huan.


Liu Huan, 40 years old, is one of China's modern era pioneers in pop music and is considered China's King of Pop.


He distinguished himself as an elegant singer with a high-pitched voice. What we are hearing is his chart-topping theme song from the TV drama, A Native of Beijing in New York which was a huge hit across China in early 1990s.


Unlike pop singers nowadays, most people got to know Liu Huan from TV dramas, as many of his good works were chosen or created as theme songs for TV dramas. The first one dates back to 1986 when the TV drama Plainclothes Cop was performed and its theme music, a solemn and heroic song, became popular overnight. That was only one year after Liu Huan graduated from college.


Liu Huan majored in the French language at the Institute of International Relations and didn't receive any systematic training in singing or composition, as he said in an interview that he didn't have any teacher on the way of music, he taught himself. Many of his classmates can still recall Liu Huan sitting on the stairs of dormitory and playing his guitar till midnight.


Travel also provided a good opportunity to expand his understanding of music. During his school years, he won a two-week trip to France after winning a singing competition. While his companions were excited with the sightseeing and busy shopping, Liu Huan spent most the time in a little bar, savoring the local music and searching for inspiration.


Shortly after graduation, Liu Huan was sent to teach in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in China's northwest. The rural music style of northwestern regions, at that time, was booming and exerted a wide influence on composers. To a boy who had grown up in urban areas, it was a new and stimulating experience.


What we are going to hear is a song created in this north-eastern style, the theme song for TV drama Snow City.


Liu Huan's music for TV drama is varied: rock and roll, Chinese local operas, and foreign musical influences are all combined in his compositions and singing. No wonder he is considered an all-rounder in the musical circle. The next song we are going to hear is influenced by Kunqu opera, China's oldest local opera popular in the eastern province of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. This song, named Goers, is created for the TV drama Hu Xueyan, and it gave the audience an opportunity to get acquainted with another talent of this musical all-rounder--lyrics writing.


The next song is called Helpless Love. It was written for the TV drama Sun Rises in the East and Rain Drops in the West and is written in a European style. Let's have a listen.

(CRI October 31, 2003)

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