City's first museum for symphony music opens
Updated: 2017-12-26
By Zhang Kun in Shanghai (China Daily USA)

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An 80-year-old garden villa in Shanghai has been turned into China's first museum for symphony music.

The villa, which has a massive 1,000-square-meter garden, was first built in the 1920s. It used to be the home of Zhou Zongliang, a business tycoon who was known as the King of Dye. Zhou's grandson Xu Yuanzhang moved into the property in the 1950s when the rest of the family moved abroad.

In 2006, the villa was bought over by the State-owned Shanghai Land Group for 120 million yuan ($18 million). According to Guan Taoping, vice president of the Shanghai Land Group, the company spent 60 million yuan to restore the property in line with its original decor.

Now called the Shanghai Symphony Museum, the facility is undergoing a six-month trial run which started on Oct 1.

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"It is a historical building which needs to be well-protected," Guan said. "As such, we have decided to limit the number of visitors to 50 a day. The museum is only open for two days every week during the trial operation."

She added that the opening hours and visitor limit will be extended in the near future.

Shanghai Land first made the decision to turn the villa into a museum, and in 2016, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO) issued a proposal to use the space to showcase the history of symphony music. The municipality later gave the green light for the house, which is located beside the Shanghai Symphony Hall, to be used for such a purpose.

The first symphony orchestra in China was founded in Shanghai in 1879 and the development of this music genre has been vibrant in the city, said Zhou Ping, director of SSO. She noted that Shanghai was the nation's frontier for Western classical music.

"It was from Shanghai that Western music was introduced to other parts of China. This is a chapter in history that the city takes pride in," said Zhou.

Located on 3 Baoqing Road, the museum presently features more than 300 historical objects such as programs, manuscripts, music scores and instruments. Among the most precious of these artifacts is the first Steinway concert piano in China which Zhou said was purchased by renowned Italian pianist Mario Paci from Europe in 1921.

Paci became the director of the Shanghai Municipal Orchestra in 1919 and led the orchestra through a golden period of development. Under his charge, the orchestra was once hailed as the best in the Far East. The Italian was also known to have organized free outdoor concerts to promote the music form to the Chinese.

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In 1930, the orchestra premiered Nostalgia, a symphonic preface by Huang Zi.

Five years later, the orchestra made a recording of Huang's composition for China's first music comedy film A Scene of City Life.

Apart from the historical artifacts and documents, the Shanghai Symphony Museum leverages Virtual Reality and other modern technologies to enhance visitors' viewing experience.

Visitors can make appointments to visit the museum through its WeChat account Dichan Baoqing.

Copyright © 2014 Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. All rights reserved.