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Heinrich Schweizer: East West Symphony for Beida’s 115 Anniversary

Peking University, May 6, 2013: The renowned Swiss composer Heinrich Schweizer, artistic adviser of Peking University Chinese Music Institute (PKUCMI), came to Beida to direct the PKUCMI students’ rehearsal of his famous work East West Symphony on May 1. The work will be performed during the “Beida’s 115 Anniversary Celebration Concert” by a combined orchestra consisting of PKUCMI and Taiwan’s Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (ESO) at the Concert Hall of the National Center for the Performing Arts on May 7, 2013.


Mr. Schweizer completed the East West Symphony in 1992. It is a successful combination of Western orchestral music with Chinese instruments and melodies, an exemplar of the fusion of Chinese music by Western musicians in the 20th century. The first movement begins with a guzheng solo playing Adios at Yangguan (Yang Guan San Die), the sound of which, compared with that played by guqin, is more flexible and less bleak. The joining of erhu adds another tune, unfolding a scroll of China. During the whole process, the Chinese traditional instruments and Western orchestra now go independently, now respond and fuse into each other, displaying a complex and harmonious conversation and communication between Eastern and Western musical cultures.


Mr. Schweizer has carefully directed the rehearsal by PKUCMI, giving instructions in regard to the rhythm, division of labour, and technical and emotional handlings. Under his help, the students come to understand the work better and are able to perform it with more confidence. He said that although Chinese national orchestral symphony has a history of just a few decades, the performance of PKUCMI was excellent, being “flexible, musical, and dynamic.”


Born in a musical family and graduated from Zurich Conservatory, Mr. Schweizer is a world-famous musician for fusing the Chinese elements in his musical creation. He has also published a collection of photography, manifesting a musician’s singular perspectives.


Established in 2005 and officially changed to the current name in 2010, PKUCMI has developed into a renowned organisation with numerous sections and a large number of members. One of the most influential societies of Peking University, it is the only students’ music society in nowadays China that has a group of senior advisors and resident composers. 

The timely joining hands of the musical exploration of the East West Symphony composed 20 years ago and the renewed, unprecedented performance out of the dedication of PKU students at present confirms the common prosperity of Eastern and Western music, reflecting the theme of universal harmony.


Written by: He Jianfeng
Edited by: Zhao Ning
Source: PKU News (Chinese)