The development of Taiwanese western vocal music since 1895: an overview

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The term Taiwanese first came into use after World War II. In 1949, civil war (the Communist Revolution) in China forced General Chiang Kai-Shek (蔣中正, 1887-1975) to move to the island of Taiwan. Many immigrants from mainland China followed him. Some inhabitants of Taiwan, the descendants of 17th century immigration, called themselves Taiwanese to distinguish themselves from the new wave of immigrants following Chiang Kai-Shek. These new immigrants were labeled “Out-of-State” (外省人) people. Nonetheless, today, with yet another change in political climate, people call themselves Taiwanese—even those people who came to Taiwan after World War II—to differentiate themselves from the citizens of the People’s Republic of China. Currently, Taiwanese refers to people who were born in Taiwan, grew up in Taiwan, were educated in Taiwan, and hold a passport from Taiwan, the Republic of China. This complicated historical background motivated people (especially since the 1970s) to focus more on Taiwan’s varied cultural identity and inspired them to create beautiful, nationalistic art. Since 1895, both Western musical traditions and the political climate in Taiwan exerted heavy influence on Taiwanese vocal music. This recital and accompanying manuscript offer glimpses into the expression of the Taiwanese spirit through song during three distinct political periods in Taiwan’s history: the music and poetry of Teng Yu-Hsien (鄧雨賢, 1906-1944), written during the Japanese colonization and lasting from 1895-1945; the work of Lu Chuan-Sheng (呂泉生, 1916-2008) and Hsiao Tyzen (蕭泰然, 1938-2015), who composed much of their work during the period after World War II and up to 1990; and from 1990 to the present, during which many composers continue to work with Western influences and their Taiwanese heritage. Since 1949, because of the political climate, Taiwan's political status has remained controversial. Many people claim Taiwan an independent country known as the Republic of China, and it functions in this way today; others insist Taiwan is merely an island constituting part of the People’s Republic of China.

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