Guo Wenjing was born in 1956 in Chongqing, an ancient cityof China’s mountainous Sichuan province. In1978, Guo was one of a hundred students admitted out of 17,000 applicants to Beijing’s re-openedCentral Conservatory of Music. Unlike many colleagues from this acclaimed class(Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Zhou Long), Guo remained in Chinaafter graduation except for a short stay in New York (on an Asian Cultural Councilgrant).
Guo’scatalogue includes three chamber operas published by Casa Ricordi: Wolf Cub Village (1994), Night Banquet (1997-98/2001) and Fengyiting (2004).The former, based on Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman, was premiered at theHolland Festival; after a subsequent performance in Paris, Le Monde comparedhis «masterpiece of madness» to Berg’s Wozzeck and Shostakovich’s TheNose.Night Banquet, on the other hand, was inspired by a paintingabout the Song dynasty court official Han Xizai and was first produced at theAlmeida Theatre (London)and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. A second version of the work, premiered at theParis Autumn Festival, was also given in Berlin,at the Lincoln Centerand in Perth.In October 2003, both Wolf Cub Village and Night Banquet receivedtheir Chinese premieres at the 6th Beijing Music Festival, directed by LinZhaohua at the Beijing People’s Art Theatre.
In2004 Guo composed the chamber opera Fengyiting (2004), written for atenor of Beijing opera and a soprano of Sichuan opera, andpremiered at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. Critics from many countries haveresponded to Guo’s «unparalleled musical beauty and dramatic power» (Le Monde),and found his work «pungent and vivid» (The Guardian), «uninhibited and pure»(Het Parool) and «subtle and unusual» (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). He hasalso been credited with «a highly original sense of operatic possibility» (TheIndependent).
Hismusic first became known in the West in 1983, when Suspended Ancient Coffinson the Cliffs on Sichuan was premiered in Berkeley, California.The piece clearly pays tribute to Bartók, highlighting two solo pianos with abattery of percussion instruments, but the strong imprint of Guo’s ownSichuanese roots is unmistakable in the orchestral writing. Shu Dao Nan [Hardare the ways of Sichuan] (1987), a symphonic poem with voices, is a setting ofLi Bai’s poetry, which the official People’s Music Publishing House selected aspart of its series “Twentieth-Century Distinguished Chinese Classics”. ChouKong Shan [Sorrowful, Desolate Mountain] (1992, rev. 1995), a concerto for Chinesebamboo flute, was premiered by the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden underthe baton of Neeme Järvi. Guo’s other orchestral works include concertos forviolin, cello, and harp. One of his most recent works, written for soprano andorchestra, is Journeys, first performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonicconducted by Edo de Waart in October 2004. The text for Journeys wastaken from epic poetry by contemporary Chinese poet Xi Chuan.
Apartfrom his chamber music for traditional western string quartets and percussionensembles, Guo also has composed Late Spring (1995) for Chinese ensembleand Sound from Tibet (2001) combining instruments from China and theWest. Among his most performed chamber works are Drama (1995, a trio forthree percussionists who also speak and sing), Inscriptions on Bone(1996, for alto singer and 15 instruments), She Huo (1991, for elevenplayers) and Parade (2004, a sequel to Drama, for threepercussionists). Guo has also composed music scores for 20 feature films and 25television films in China.
Athome, Guo has been honored among the Top 100 Living Artists of China. Abroad,his works have been featured at festivals in Amsterdam,Berlin, Glasgow,Paris, Edinburgh,New York, Aspen,London, Turin, Perth, Huddersfield, Hong Kong and Warsaw,and at venues like Frankfurt Opera, the Berlin Konzerthaus, Amsterdam’sConcertgebouw and New York’s Lincoln Center.He has written works for internationally distinguished ensembles like the NieuwEnsemble, Atlas Ensemble, Cincinnati Percussion Group, Kronos Quartet, ArdittiString Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Göteborg SymphonyOrchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, and HongKong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Theformer head of the composition department of the Central Conservatory, where hestill remains on the faculty, Guo maintains a busy schedule as composer andeducator. His forthcoming works include: a concerto for erhu (Chinesetwo-stringed fiddle) co-commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra(worldpremiered on 19 January 2007) and the Bavarian Radio’s longstandingconcert series “Musica Viva”; the opera PoetLi Bai (upon themost famous Tang dynasty poet) the world premiere of which was on July 2007 inDenver (Colorado) during the Summer Festival of the Central City Opera. Europeanpremiere took place in Rome, May 2008.
- Echoes of Heaven and Hearth
- Late Spring
- Night Banquet
- She Huo
- Sound from Tibet
- String Quartet n. 2
- Suite from Wolf Cub Village
- Three interludes from Night Banquet
- Wolf Cub Village
- Ye Yan/The Night of the Banquet
- Yuan You ( Journeys)
- Inscriptions on bone
- Concerto per zheng e orchestra
- Prelud und Fugue
Music on sale
- She huo
- Late spring
- Wolf cub village
- Concertino op.26
- Inscriptions on bone
- Night banquet.
- Overture op. 27. in celebration of the reunification of hong kong with china in 1997
- Drama. trio op. 23
- Echoes of heaven and earth