Tan Dun

Biography

Born: August 18, 1957; Si Mao, Hunan, China  
Tan Dun is a leading Chinese-born composer and one of the most prominent in the genre of "world classical" music. He was raised by his grandmother in central Hunan, a region with distinct linguistic and folk identity, including a shamanistic culture. Tan Dun was conscripted to "re-education" (i.e., forced labor) to the exhausting toil of rice planting as part of Mao's disastrous "Cultural Revolution" policy. To keep his mind occupied, he listened Read more to and wrote down local folk music.
Tan made arrangements of the tunes using whatever folk instruments and other noisemakers were available (including things such as woks and agricultural implements) creating often fantastic effects. Tan played the erhu, the one-string traditional Chinese fiddle. By the time he was 17, he was the musical leader of the village, playing celebrations, weddings, and funerals. Then a riverboat carrying a Peking-style Chinese Opera troupe capsized, killing many musicians. Tan was immediately sent to join the company as a replacement. When the Central Conservatory reopened in 1978, Tan won one of thirty slots for composition students over thousands of applicants. He was taught by Li Yinghai and Zhao Xingdao, and visiting lecturers Alexander George, Hans Werner Henze, Chou Wen-Chung, Isang Yun, George Crumb, and Toru Takemitsu. Tan became a leader in a developing "New Wave" of art when he wrote, at age 22, a symphony (Li Sao), based on a fourth century B.C.E. Hunan lament. The work, for western symphony orchestra, won a special "incentive" prize at the first National Symphonic Competition.
Tan received international recognition in 1983 when his String Quartet (Feng Ya Song) won the Weber Prize from Dresden, making Tan the first Chinese composer to win an international prize since the Communist Revolution of 1949. That same year, Party officials initiated a program attacking the New Wave as "spiritual pollution" and specifically cited Tan. But the campaign was canceled, and Tan continued in his chosen path.
His international breakthrough was an orchestral work called On Taoism (1985), inspired by the death of his grandmother. It was recognized as a remarkable assertion of Chinese esthetics and musical material in the medium of the Western symphony orchestra.
Columbia University offered Tan a fellowship in 1986. Tan moved to New York (where he still makes his home) and worked on his doctorate in music. His student-period works are in an international atonal style, but his true nature reappeared in the Eight Colors for String Quartet (1988), using Peking Opera material. Then he wrote Nine Songs (1989), a revolutionary work in the form of a ritual opera using fifty newly created ceramic instruments.
Tan developed a concept of the orchestra as a form of ritual, a major feature of his subsequent work. His major prizes include the Suntory Prize Commission of 1992 and the Grawemeyer Prize for his 1996 opera Marco Polo. In both cases, he was the youngest composer ever to win. He has been associated with major events of his time. He composed Symphony 1997 (Heaven Earth Mankind) for the transfer of Hong Kong, incorporating popular song, Chinese opera, solo cello, orchestra, and recordings of the great tomb bells of Hubei, which were cast in 433 B.C.E.
In 1999, he composed 2000 Today: A World Symphony for the Millennium for use in the BBC's worldwide 27-hour broadcast of the arrival of the millennium.
His rapidly growing catalog and discography includes two film scores: for Denzel Washington's film, Fallen, and Ang Lee's martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which unites ethnic and symphonic music, cello performances by Yo Yo Ma, and songs by Asian pop star CoCo Lee. Read less
Tan Dun: Marco Polo / Tan Dun, Netherlands Rco
Release Date: 10/07/1997   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 62912   Number of Discs: 2
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Tan Dun: Tea; Broken Silence
Release Date: 11/20/2007   Label: Juxtapositions  
Catalog: DVD9DS32   Number of Discs: 1
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Tan Dun: Marco Polo / Dun, Workman, Castle, Lundy
Release Date: 06/30/2009   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 1010   Number of Discs: 1
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Tan Dun: Marco Polo / Dun, Workman, Castle, Lundy [blu-ray]
Release Date: 06/30/2009   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 7029   Number of Discs: 1
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Tan Dun: Water Concerto / Cossin, Fujii, Inano
Release Date: 09/29/2009   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 1014   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 43 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    5 Classic Albums / Sharon Isbin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 624364 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Antonio Lauro,  Isaias Savio,  Leo Brouwer,  Benito Canonico  ... 
    Performer:  Gaudencio Thiago de Mello,  Sharon Isbin,  Paul Winter
    Conductor:  Muhai Tang,  Howard Griffiths,  José Serebrier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gulbenkian Foundation Symphony Orchestra Lisbon,  Zurich Chamber Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 2.
    Lang Lang - Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001697972 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Lang Lang,  Guo-Ren Lang,  Wu Yuxia,  Chen Shasha  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Valery Gergiev,  Long Yu,  Christoph Eschenbach  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra,  Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bach To Tan Dun / Beijing Guitar Duo
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 36015522 Release Date: 10/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Meng Su,  Yameng Wang
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beijing Guitar Duo
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  • 4.
    Dance / The Smith Quartet
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 236 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tunde Jugede,  Joe Cutler,  John Adams,  Graham Fitkin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smith String Quartet
    CD: $17.99
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  • 5.
    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - Original Soundtrack
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 760859 Release Date: 03/02/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai National Orchestra,  Shanghai Percussion Ensemble,  Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 6.
    Yo-Yo Ma - 30 Years Outside the Box
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 752307 Release Date: 10/27/2009   Number of Discs: 90
    Composer:  Sandeep Das,  Traditional,  Kayhan Kalhor,  Zhou Long  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Gramley,  Kim Dong-Won,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Mark Suter  ... 
    Conductor:  Miguel Harth-Bedoya,  John T. Williams,  Ennio Morricone,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Silk Road Ensemble,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Qi Lin  ... 
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  • 7.
    Tan Dun: Paper Concerto / Cossin, Fujii, Inano
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 1013 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Tamao Inano,  David Cossin,  Rika Fujii
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Tan Dun: Water Concerto / Cossin, Fujii, Inano
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 1014 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  David Cossin,  Tamao Inano,  Rika Fujii
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $24.99
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  • 9.
    Tan Dun: Marco Polo / Dun, Workman, Castle, Lundy
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 1010 Release Date: 06/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Tania Kross,  Zhang Jun,  Nancy Allen Lundy,  Sarah Castle  ... 
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Amsterdam,  Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
    On sale! $29.99
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  • 10.
    Tan Dun: Marco Polo / Dun, Workman, Castle, Lundy [blu-ray]
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 7029 Release Date: 06/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Charles Workman,  Sarah Castle,  Zhang Jun,  Stephen Richardson  ... 
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Amsterdam,  Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
    On sale! $39.99
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  • 11.
    Metropolitan Opera Live in HD - Tan Dun: The First Emperor
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 15129 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Elizabeth Futral,  Danrell Williams,  Paul Groves,  Susanne Mentzer  ... 
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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    On sale! $42.98
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  • 12.
    Sticks & Stones - Music For Percussion & Strings - Harrison, Dun, Phillips / Braun, Bagley, Haines, Et Al
    Label: Equilibrium   Catalog: 88 Release Date: 05/06/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark Phillips,  Tan Dun,  Lou Harrison
    Performer:  Roger Braun,  Michael Carrera,  Marjorie Bagley,  Kristin Agee  ... 
    Conductor:  Steven Huang,  Roger Braun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio University Percussion Ensemble
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 13.
    Margaret Leng Tan - Sorceress Of The New Piano
    Label: Mode   Catalog: 194 Release Date: 04/15/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Toby Twining,  Tan Dun,  Somei Satoh,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan,  Joan La Barbara
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  • 14.
    Tan Dun: Pipa Concerto;  Et Al / Bashmet, Wu Man, Et Al
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4027 Release Date: 03/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun,  Hikaru Hayashi,  Toru Takemitsu,  José Torres
    Performer:  Wu Man,  Yuri Bashmet
    Conductor:  Yuri Bashmet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Soloists
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  • 15.
    Come With Us
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4766190 Release Date: 01/21/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Anna Goldsworthy
    CD: $19.99
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  • 16.
    Dim Sum - Zhou Long, Lei Liang, Tan Dun, Etc / Ying Quartet
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80690 Release Date: 01/15/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Zhou Long,  Chen Yi,  Bright Sheng,  Ge Gan-Ru  ... 
    Performer:  David Ying,  Janet Ying,  Phillip Ying,  Timothy Ying
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ying String Quartet
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  • 17.
    Tan Dun: Tea; Broken Silence
    Label: Juxtapositions   Catalog: DVD9DS32 Release Date: 11/20/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    On sale! $24.99
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  • 18.
    Tan Dun: The Banquet - Original Soundtrack
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4776459 Release Date: 08/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Jane Lian Ying Zhang,  Lang Lang,  Zhou Xun,  Yuan Li  ... 
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai Percussion Ensemble,  Shanghai Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    The Essential Yo-Yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 93927 Release Date: 08/16/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Carlos Jobim,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johannes Brahms,  Joseph Brackett  ... 
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Kathryn Stott,  Nilson Matta,  Rosa Passos  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Ennio Morricone,  Chen Xieyang,  Tan Dun  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra,  Claude Bolling Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 20.
    Classical Cuisine - Asian Delights
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 74755 Release Date: 04/05/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun,  Traditional,  Toru Takemitsu,  Wu Tong  ... 
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Utae Uno,  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Shinichi Yuize  ... 
    Conductor:  Tan Dun,  James Conlon,  Robert Craft
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai Symphony Orchestra,  Silk Road Ensemble,  Orchestre de Paris Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $4.99
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  • 21.
    Lang Lang - Live At Carnegie Hall
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000302809 Release Date: 09/28/2004  
    Composer:  Traditional,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Lang Lang
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 22.
    Tan Dun: Hero / Perlman, Tan Dun, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 87726 Release Date: 08/24/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tan Dun
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Tan Dun,  Liu Li,  You Yan
    Conductor:  Tan Dun
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China,  Central Philharmonic Chorus of China,  KODO Drummers of Japan  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 23.
    Artist Portrait - Sharon Isbin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 61591 Release Date: 08/10/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Tan Dun,  Christopher Rouse,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Sharon Isbin,  Susanne Mentzer,  Gaudencio Thiago de Mello
    Conductor:  Howard Griffiths,  Muhai Tang
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Chamber Orchestra,  Gulbenkian Foundation Symphony Orchestra Lisbon
    CD: $12.99
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  • 24.
    Lang Lang - Live At Carnegie Hall
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000204702 Release Date: 03/02/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Tan Dun,  Traditional,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Lang Lang,  Guo-Ren Lang
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 25.
    Lang Lang - Live At Carnegie Hall
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000204702 Release Date: 03/02/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Lang Lang,  Guo-Ren Lang
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