Born in Suzhou into a musical family, Huang exhibited great musical talent from a young age. His father, a strict man, taught him organ and violin, and Huang taught himself a variety of Chinese and Western instruments, including piano, harmonica, erhu, yangqin, jinghu, yueqin and even Beijing and Kun Opera
He moved to Shanghai in the mid-1930s, where he joined in orchestral recordings for the Pathé label. In 1935, he joined the Shanghai Worker's Orchestra, which later became the Shanghai City Symphonic, under Huang's leadership, where he meet other early Chinese conductors such as Cao Peng. In a thirty-year career at the orchestra, he recorded a number of film-scores, and accepted invitations to conduct symphonies in Finland (1956), the USSR (1958) and, at the express invitation of Herbert Von Karajan in 1981 Berlin.
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