Yuyi Xuan was born in Pingxiang City on September 6th 1909. She spent 4 years at the Shanghai National Music Institute from 1928 to 1932. She spent several years in the USA thereafter before returning to China. She became one of the four most famous sopranos of China, along with Zhou Xiaoyan, Huang Youkui, and Lang Yuk Sau. Her life was spent serving and teaching music in the highest establishments in China. She also travelled the world to study music further and to give performances. A true ambassador of music. She died in Beijing in January 2008, at the age of 99 years. She was also known as Louise Kwan. Her recordings of In That Distant Place in the 1940s, and of Love Song of Kangding in 1949 remain, for me, the definitive recordings of these two classic songs.
Although Yu died at the age of 99, her 100th birthday was still celebrated: On the morning of Sept. 7th, 2009, the forum in Commemoration of Renowned Soprano and Vocal Educator Yu Yixuan's 100th Birthday was held solemnly at the Taiwan hall of the Great Hall of the People. President Wang Stated in his speech "Yu Yixuan's outstanding contributions to Chinese modern musical education, especially the vocal art, will go down in the annals of history."
Love Song of Kangding 康定情歌 1949
Mother Heart 1932 慈母心
In That Distant Place 在那遙遠的地方
Kang Ding Love Song is one of the most popular Chinese folk songs. Its simple melody and vivid rhythm are easy to remember and sing, and its lyrics tell a timeless theme — Love. It also sings of the beauty of Mt. Paoma, a mountain peak that rises 1,000 feet over the city. It has a Tibetan monastery at the peak and is said to "scrape" the clouds from the heavens."
UNESCO has Kangding Love Song as one of the world's top ten folk songs, and it has become legendary over the years, performed by international artists such as Placido Domingo and Kailunaisi Ciprian. It was China's representative amongst the ten most recorded songs in the world launched into the Universe by the US National Space Agency. Festivals are held in its honour, visitors flock to Kangding where even a hotel is named after it. It has come a long way since You Yixuan brought it to public attention in 1949.
If you would like to learn and then sing Love Song of Kangding - here are the lyrics in Romanized Script called Pinyin.
Pǎomǎ liūliū de shānshuǐ, yī duo liūliū de yún yō,
Mother Heart really is a most beautiful lullaby, touching the very soul. This recording is from cd 19 of the Pop Songs From Shanghai 1931-1949 collection. Yuyi Xuan spent 4 years at the Shanghai National Music Institute from 1928 to 1932. "Mother Heart" was recorded at the end of her time there, along with 'Picnic'. She spent several years in the USA thereafter before returning to China.
Wéi shèn yǎnpí bù hélǒng, shì xiǎo māo jiāng er jīng.
In That Distant Place is one of the best-known and most loved of all Chinese songs. I would think that every Chinese singer has sung it at some time in their career. A song truly to inspire both singer and listener. It was written by Wang Luobin (王洛宾) in 1938. Wang was a renowned Han Chinese songwriter. He specialized in composing Mandarin-language songs based on the music of various ethnic minorities in western China. But he is one of the controversial person among the Uyghurs. Some Uyghur scholars called him a " thief of Uyghur song and music".
Wang was inspired by a Kazakh folk song that he had collected in the area now called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. His lyrics ( see the translation below) describe a pretty young girl, who lives there, to be like the sunshine, making everyone around her happy. Wang wrote this song, as he was assisting a friend in Xining, Qinghai Province, in a movie-making project. He met a young Tibetan girl there, and she inspired this song.
Over the years, it has taken on many forms and settings. Fei Mu's 1948 film "Spring in a Small Town", voted in 2005 by the Hong Kong Film Critics Association as the greatest Chinese film of all time, features the song. The three principles take a boat out onto the river with Little Sister, and they sing it together. "In That Distant place," cited as China's first TV series, is also well worth checking out.