My Family History

Trace your ancestors and then immortalise them!

     Zhou Xiaoyan  周小燕    August 17, 1917 -  March 4, 2016

Zhou Xiaoyan was one of China's greatest sopranos, and a pioneer in coloratura technique. She was born in Wuhan, Hubei in 1918. Her wealthy father encouraged her from an early age, and in 1935, she entered Shanghai Guoli Professional Training School, majoring in vocal music. However, in 1937, owing to the Sino-Japan War and the bombing of the school, she had to quit, and came back to her hometown. At the end of 1938, she went to France, and entered the Paris Russia Conservatory of Music.

In October 1945, after seven years hardworking, Zhou Xiaoyan finally stood on the stage of Paris National Opera. On her first performance, her outstanding skills and beautiful voice conquered French audience. Later, she was invited to Czechoslovakia to participate in the Spring of Prague Concert. Her performance was very successful and she was named the "Chinese Nightingale". In October 1947, Zhou Xiaoyan returned to China, after 9 years away.

However, China was under the control of KMT, and the people were still suffering a lot. These circumstances made upset Zhou Xiaoyan, so she decided to walk around and sing to those progressive students. The foundation of New China began a new chapter in her life, and she became vocal teacher in Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The Cultural Revolution was the darkest period in Zhou Xiaoyan's life. She could neither sing nor take ordinary teaching jobs. But her deep love towards her vocation carried her through.

After The Cultural Revolution, Zhou Xiaoyan restarted to cultivate students. In the Vienna International Vocal Competition held in 1984, four of Zhou Xiaoyan's students got prizes, among whom three got the golden prizes and one got the silver prize. The results stunned the international music field. To develop Chinese opera career, cultivate opera performers, and strengthen the cooperation of international music culture and communication, she set up the Zhou Xiaoyan Opera Center in the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in May 1988. For 50 years, professor Zhou has cultivated many singers who gained both domestic and international acclaim. A remarkable lady, and a truly inspirational singer. No translation for this song, but the theme is war.