Qin Ouyang

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Charles Fugo


Russian-born Alexander Nikolayevich Tcherepnin (Jan 23, 1899-Sept 13, 1977), a contemporary of Virgil Thomson, Henry Cowell, Igor Stravinsky, and Arnold Schoenberg, made far-reaching contributions as a pianist, conductor, and composer. His unique contrapuntal system “Interpoint,” employment of rhythmic variation, adoption of polyphonic structure, and use of the nine-step scale secured his place in music history as a celebrated composer of the twentieth century.1 Throughout his life he traveled to various countries. 1928-1947 is a period during which Tcherepnin came under the influence of “Eurasian” ideas (the synthesis of Russian and Eastern cultures). He developed new musical formulas by exploiting musical folklore in eastern countries. The last year of this phase is marked by his Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 78 (Fantasia for piano and orchestra), composed in Paris in 1947. The Concerto is based on Chinese legend, related in the form of a poem, and influenced by his tour (1934-37) in China where he helped budding careers of young Chinese composers and composed several chamber and solo piano works based on Chinese art. The Concerto was premiered in December 16, 1958, Oakland, California by Lily Bohnki-Roenthal under the direction of Piero Bellugi.

In contrast to the works written in China, the Concerto No. 4 involves more than the mere use of Chinese idioms. There is a clear connection with the traditions of Debussy and Ravel, which is reflected in the treatment of the coloristic possibilities. In the concerto, Tcherepnin revived the nine-step scale that he had temporarily abandoned by the late 1920s. The mingling of the Chinese style and his innovative technique, combined with the tradition of Romanticism, Impressionism and the Russian school, is the culmination of the composer’s accomplishment under the influence of Eurasianism. This study examines Tcherepnin’s musical life from the perspectives of a Eurasian artist, a Chinese scholar, and an accomplished musician, and suggests the adoption of a hybrid style in the Concerto No. 4 based on a thorough musical analysis. An investigation of the Concerto No. 4 increases the awareness of the composer and his creative style.


© 2020, Qin Ouyang