His youthful studies include a spell at the famous Yucai School in Chongqing. He moved to Shanghai in 1948, where he performed as a pianist. He attended the Tchaikovsky Music Conservatory in Moscow from 1954-58, before joining the Beijing Central Conservatory.
- Collaborating on the ballet Red Detachment of Women (premiered 1964, possibly the best-known Chinese ballet).
- The Mermaid (ballet), with Wu Zuqiang
- The Goddess of the River Luo (symphonic fantasia)
- A violin concerto and a piano concerto (Spirit of Spring)
- A symphonic version of the Beijing Opera, Women Generals of the Yangs, commissioned by the China Philharmonic Orchestra
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