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Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 19:30

Beethoven in China

Jindong Cai, Conductor, Music Director, Professor and Co-author of Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People's Republic


Embassy of Estonia

1 Liangmaqiao Beixiaojie

Chaoyang District, Beijing





Aishaniya Dashiguan

Chaoyang Qu Liangmaqiao Beixiaojie 1


BIS events are open to foreign passport holders only.


All BIS events are off-the-record.


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Non-members welcome for a single lecture fee of RMB 60;
students with valid ID RMB 30.
Membership desk open 7:00 pm for 7:30 pm lecture,
no reservations necessary.
For inquiries on the day of the event, from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm, please call 1324 161 5200.



It was during the Cultural Revolution that composer Jindong Cai fell in love with Beethoven's music. He will explain the roots of that love in his talk on his recently published book which he co-authored with his wife Sheila Melvin: Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People's Republic.

Following the lecture, we will be fortunate to be joined by piano maestro Kemin Zhang who will perform the 1st movement of Beethoven Moonlight Sonata for our BIS audience.

At the turn of the twentieth century, with the foundations of traditional Chinese society crumbling, many patriotic and idealistic young people went overseas seeking inspiration and education, determined to learn from the outside world and forge a new path forward for China. One such group of artists and intellectuals introduced Beethoven to China after encountering the composer during their studies in Japan. The composer's perseverance in the face of adversity and his musical genius resonated in a nation searching for a way forward. Since then, Beethoven has become an iconic figure in China and played a role in many major historical events from the May Fourth Movement to the normalization of US-China relations. Beethoven has been a hero to reformers, intellectuals, music lovers and party cadres alike.

Professor Cai will share his own experience of hearing Beethoven's music for the first time in the midst of the Cultural Revolution. He will also tell the story of how Beethoven and his music became so deeply rooted in modern China, as well as share thoughts on the state of classical music in China today.

Jindong Cai is the conductor and music director of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and a professor at Stanford University. He joined the Stanford faculty in 2004 as the first holder of the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies Chair. He is also the Artistic Director of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival, which he founded in 2005. Maestro Cai serves as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China and of the Mongolia State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ulaan Baatar. He is a three-time recipient of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. Together with his wife Sheila Melvin, Cai has co-authored a series of articles for the New York Times on the performing arts in China and a book, Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese.

Kemin Zhang was born to a musical family in China and raised in Canada. Kemin was brought up in a bi-cultural environment and was influenced by music and theater since early childhood. Kemin made his debut as a Musical Theater Director in a production of the musical ‘Oliver!’ with the International Festival Chorus and Children's Choir in 2008. Since then, he has worked on some original Chinese musicals. In 2011, he was awarded the ‘Best Production Award’ at the China's National Dongguan Musical Theater Festival.