The Great Hall of the People: ode to Zhou Enlai

As Sun Bin is deeply involved in the study of China’s period under Zhu De, Zhou Enlai and of course her grandfather Sun Bingwen, we get involved in unusual events. Like this one in the afternoon of 17 February. We thought at first it was a “small event”, till we reached the gates and saw half of Beijing was there queuing up to enter. We were in that huge hall that filled up completely. And me the only foreigner…
Boring at first, it was pretty interesting. For Sun was it rather emotional as it showed the old times, so many memories for her.
On stage, the original seat of Zhou Enlai. And some of the most famous singers in China’s history, some like 90 years old.
Also the “Third Red Generation”, the ones all with a long red scarf.

I was moved by what I consider to be one of the most beautiful pieces of Chinese music. See here the story behind it:

The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo (梁山伯) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), whose names form the title of the story. The title is often abbreviated to Liang Zhu (梁祝). The legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai is set in the Eastern Jin dynasty (265-420 CE). The Butterfly Lovers is also known as China’s play of Romeo and Juliet.
In 1950s, Chen Gang (陈钢) composed the internationally famous violin concerto themed with Liangzhu, and in 1954, ex-premier Zhou Enlai introduced the movie named Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, China’s first colored opera-type artistic movie, to the journalists of the world when he attended at the Geneva Conference, and then this movie based on the love story was widely called Chinese Romeo and Juliet. In a short time, this story becomes internationally famous.

The internationally famous violin concerto named Liangzhu or The Butterfly Lovers: see here one of the many versions. Just simple moving….

There are also versions with erhu instead of violin. Great stuff.
See also the old picture of The Great Hall and Tiananmen, when I arrived in Beijing it was still nearly like that: no barriers anywhere. Now, to go there or leave there, what a fuss. All that security. Times have changed and not always for the better.

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