Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Alicia Walker


Born in 1951 to a family of artists in China, sent off to re-education garrisons during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, admitted to the famous composition class of 1977 of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, migrated to France, and became the last student of Olivier Messiaen, Qigang Chen is a prominent composer of symphonic literature, vocal repertoire, solo concertos, chamber works, instrumental and electro acoustics, film soundtracks, popular songs, and a ballet. His compositional style melds elements and features of Chinese traditional and contemporary music and western contemporary academic music. This creates a distinctive multicultural expression of art which is portrayed with outstanding skill in his orchestral pieces.

Wu Xing, L’Éloignement, and Luan Tan are fine examples of the remarkable creativity behind the fusion of western and Chinese elements. Wu Xing sonically depicts the five elements of the ancient Chinese theory of the five elements and their relationship. L’Éloignement makes a direct quote to the traditional Chinese folk song Zou Xi Kou to portray the contrasting emotions evoked by departure. Finally, Luan Tan is a variation for orchestra in the style of the Chinese opera that bears its name.

This study is a comparison of the aforementioned symphonic works through an analytical overview, highlighting the features that make Chen’s music unique and worth being recognized. In addition, it provides the reader with important information that will help navigate Chen’s music and hopefully incentivize the further study of the composer and his works.

Included in

Music Commons