Classical Music and the Cultural Revolution: Background information when reading Swimming Back to Trout River

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Swimming Back to Trout River

by Linda Rui Feng

Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng X
Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng
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  • Published:
    May 2021, 272 pages

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Jennifer Hon Khalaf
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Classical Music and the Cultural Revolution

This article relates to Swimming Back to Trout River

Painting of Ludwig van BeethovenIn Swimming Back to Trout River, Dawn and Momo are united by their love of music during the turbulent years of the Cultural Revolution, particularly Western classical music. There is a special significance attached to a bust of Beethoven within the novel. Beethoven was seen as a revolutionary symbol throughout 20th century China, since his personal hardships resonated with Chinese cultural ideals about struggle and triumph. Yet, Beethoven, along with all other Western music, was banned during the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

Prior to the onset of the Cultural Revolution, there was much cultural interchange between China and the West, with Shanghai dubbed "the Paris of the East" as early as 1869, and the introduction of Western-style orchestras in 1879. The growing interest and fusion of Western and traditional Eastern styles of music was brought to a sudden halt with the advent of the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution was a sociopolitical purge that ...

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