City’s first mu­seum for sym­phony mu­sic opens

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai

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.

“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.

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.


The Shang­hai Sym­phony Mu­seum is cur­rently in its trial phase and is opened just two days ev­ery week.

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