Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai. New York, NY: Algora Publishing, 2004.362 pp. $33.00 hardcover.
Music, which absorbs indigenous and external influences, adds a rich, subtle texture and tangible voice to a country's culture. This blending of influences is the subject that wife-and-husband team Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai tackle in their book Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese, which examines the history of Western classical music in China. To this collaborative effort, Melvin, formerly the Shanghai representative of the US-China Business Council (publisher of the CBR), brings many years of experience in China; Cai brings his experience with Western classical music in China since the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), a time when the PRC alternately heralded and persecuted classical music.
Melvin and Cai follow Western classical music's development, appreciation, and use in China from the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) to today. The authors show that diverse foreign influences have played a part in China's musical development. Following the Jesuit missionaries, the Italians, French, and Russians in turn influenced the structure, standards, notation, melodies, and development of classical music in China.
The book opens with the development of the Shanghai National Orchestra in the early 1900s. …