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Figure Skating – 1982 – Special – Peggy Fleming Performance Of A Butterfly Lovers Concerto In China

This video showcases one of America’s most elegant athletes to ever perform….figure skater Peggy Fleming…who was sent as an unofficial ambassador for the opening of US / China relationships…..and she chose to perform a Chinese written piece called The Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto….which has since become a universally performed piece….and the people of China loved it….as seen in this video herewith.

The Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto (simplified Chinese: 梁祝小提琴协奏曲; traditional Chinese: 梁祝小提琴協奏曲)….along with the Yellow River Piano Concerto….is one of the most famous orchestra works of Chinese music. It is an orchestral adaptation of an ancient legend known as the Butterfly Lovers….which was written for the western style orchestra….featuring a solo violin played using some Chinese techniques.  

The Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto is written in traditional 5-note technique (pentatonic scale), it uses many Chinese melodies, chord structures and patterns. This gives the piece a distinctive “Chinese” sound, though it uses tonal harmonies.  The Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto was written in 1959 by two Chinese composers, He Zhanhao (何占豪, born 1933) and Chen Gang (陈钢, born 1935)….while they were students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The music did not attain popularity before the late 1970’s…which was when China loosened its restrictions after the Cultural Revolution…..which allowed sports exhibitions to come to China to perform. Once released from censorship, it became an embodiment of China in transition. The work is a common feature in figure skating and in concert halls worldwide. This concerto is now often performed with Chinese instruments playing the violin part, the most common being Erhu, Pipa and Liuqin. In such cases the soloist is often accompanied by an orchestra consisting of Chinese instruments.   

Any way you cut the pie….every time that America’s best in sports went to China from 1982 on until the turn of the century….it served as another piece in the puzzle to the opening of China…..which makes it another “nugget of gold”  in our treasure chest of memories here at ImaSportsphile. ENJOY!!!

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