Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto (Video and Musical Elements)

1st Movement - Meet, Being Together, Fall In Love (Violin by Lv Si Qin)

2nd Movement - Opposition to an Arranged Marriage, Jumped into Grave (ErHu by Xu Ke)

3rd Movement - Transformed into Butterflies (Violin by Lv Si Qin)

3rd Movement is which part we will perform in our Debut Concert on 21th October.


The concerto is in 3 movements. Each tells a different part of the story of the Butterfly Lovers. Some of the melodies come from the Chinese Opera of the same name or from traditional Chinese folk songs. The solo violin of the concerto is symbolic of Zhu Yingtai, the story's protagonist, and the cello part is symbolic of Liang Shanbo, her lover.

The concerto begins with a flute and then enters into a simple melody played by the solo violinist. This melody comes from a Chinese folk song of the yellow river, and tells the story of Zhu Yingtai's childhood. The solo violin is accompanied by a harp and other elements of the orchestra.

Next, the concerto tells of Zhu Yingtai's disguising herself as a man and her journey to Hangzhou to attend university. The solo violin plays a complex and fast melody floating above the rest of the orchestra. When Zhu arrives she meets Liang Shanbo, a fellow student. The two spend three years together as good friends. Zhu falls in love with Liang, but cannot express her feelings without revealing her identity as a woman.

When both the students must return home, Zhu invites Liang to visit her family and to court her sister. He doesn't know that Zhu is really inviting him to marry her. Liang promises to see Zhu again, but Liang waits before doing so. When Liang arrives, he sees Zhu and realizes that she is a woman, and they fall in love. The solo violin and cello parts play a sad duet that is the most famous and powerful of the work.

The love duet between the two is replaced by anger as Liang learns that in his absence, Zhu has been betrothed to another. The two solo parts contrast the rest of the orchestra. Several melodies are used in this section, the orchestra plays loud and accented chords in between the softer cello and violin parts and the parts are often intertwined. Liang becomes sick and dies as the music replays the duet of their love. Zhu and the orchestra continue to play their contrasting parts. The section ends with the suicide of Zhu Yingtai as the solo violin plays an overarching high note. The lover's parts are overcome by a final orchestral section. In the legend, Liang's grave opens and Zhu throws herself into the chasm.

The lovers' themes return and the two lovers are magically transformed into butterflies.

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