Xiao Youmei

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Xiao Youmei
Xiao Youmei.jpg
Background information
Birth nameXiao Youmei
Born(1884-01-07)7 January 1884
Zhongshan County, Guangdong, China
Died31 December 1940(1940-12-31) (aged 56)
Shanghai, China
Occupation(s)Composer, music educator

Xiao Youmei (Chinese: 蕭友梅; pinyin: Xiāo Yǒuméi, [ɕjáu jòu měi]; 7 January 1884 – 31 December 1940, styled as 思鶴; Sīhè and 雪朋; Xuěpéng; formerly transliterated Shio Yiu-mei) was a noted Chinese music educator and composer.


Xiao was born in Zhongshan County, Guangdong to a musical family. From an early age in Macao he experienced firsthand Western music. In 1899, he enrolled at Guangzhou's Shimyin Junior High School (时敏学堂). In 1901, he studied abroad in Japan, studying pedagogy, piano, and voice. In 1906, he joined the Tongmenghui. In 1910, he returned to China, where he achieved the degree "recommended man" (juren 举人) on the imperial examination for students who studied abroad. Not long after, he studied abroad again, this time in Germany, at Leipzig University and Königliches Konservatorium der Musik zu Leipzig (now the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig), where he completed the Ph.D. His doctoral thesis was "Eine geschichtliche Untersuchung über das chinesische Orchester bis zum 17. Jahrhundert (Historical Research on the Pre-Seventeenth Century Chinese Orchestra)" (1916); it was translated into Chinese only in 1990.[1] Hugo Riemann was one of his teachers. In October 1916, he entered the philosophy department of Berlin University where he continued research.

Returning to China, in 1920, he served as the reviewing editor for the Republic of China's Ministry of Education. In 1921, he served as the director of National Beijing University's "Music Research Group." In 1922, in accordance with his recommendation, this group was formally renamed "Music Research Institute of Beijing University." He also became this institute's managing director. In 1927, Cai Yuanpei supported him to found China's first specialized institute of higher education for music, the National College of Music. In September 1929, according to his plan it was upgraded to the National Institute for Music (in 1949 it was renamed the Shanghai Conservatory, which it remains today). He served as the president of the institute, until his death from illness in 1940. He himself designed the "Old Music Research Revolution" curriculum (and Chinese ancient music history), and also wrote the textbooks himself.


Xiao Youmei also was one of China's first composers to master Western compositional techniques and incorporate them in his works. In his lifetime, he wrote over 100 pieces. These include piano works, orchestral pieces, violin and other string pieces, and choral works. Among his notable students is the famous Chinese composer and music educator Lin Shengyi [zh], who once studied harmony with him. He wrote many textbooks, including ones for organ (1924), piano (1924), violin (1927), harmony (1927), and general music (1928) In addition, he also wrote over fifty music publications.

On the seventieth anniversary of his death, a bronze statue of Xiao Youmei was erected at the Beijing Concert Hall by the Central Conservatory of Music, the China National Symphony Orchestra, and the China Symphony Development Foundation.[2]


  1. ^ Joys Hoi Yan Cheung (2008). Chinese Music and Translated Modernity in Shanghai, 1918-1937 (dissertation). University of Michigan. pp. 183–184.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Remembering Xiao Youmei". China Daily.

External links[edit]

  • Page at Center for the Humanities at National Sun Yat-sen University