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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000479.txt from 2005/04

From: "Dan Leeson" <dnleeson@-----.net>
Subj: [kl] An item of some historical interest
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2005 16:50:12 -0400

The following material (which I found fascinating) was sent to me by
clarinettist Mark Brandenburg. It is from a book called Rhapsody in Red--How
Western Classical Music Became Chinese. It is by the conductor of the
Stanford orchestra Jindong Cai and his wife, Sheila Melvin.

By the final years of Emperor Qianlong's reign and the end of the 18th
century, the socio-political circumstances that inhibited the spread of
Western music were on the cusp of change. The old era of musical
transmission through missionary music teachers at court was also reaching
its conclusion. Indeed, no new music teachers had arrived in years, partly
because squabbling in Europe had led the Pope to abolish the Society of
Jeusus in 1773 and partly because the aging Qianlong was no longer studying
Western music. China's view of itself and the world beyond was also about
to be radically altered, in a long and painful process that can reasonably
be traced to the summer of 1793, when yet another European sailed into
Chinese waters bearing musical instruments and high ambitions.
But, though his ships carried two violins, a viola, a violincello, an
oboe, a bassoon, two basset horns, a clarinet, a flute, and a fife [and
musicans], Lord George Macartney was neither musician nor missionary, but
diplomat....
In support of his goal, Lord Macartney's little band played aboard ship
when he hosted high-ranking mandarins at Western-style dinners, perhaps
performing the music of such composers as Haydn and Mozart...
The leader of the Emperor's orchestra was so intrigued by the band's wind
instruments [provided by Charles Burney] that Macartney offered to give them
to him, but he politely declined. Instead

[he] sent for a couple of painters, who spread the floor with
a few
sheets of large paper, placed the clarinets, flutes,
bassoons and the
French horns upon them, and then traced with their pencils
the figures
of the instruments, measuring all the apertures and noting
the minutest
particulars, and when this operation was completed they
wrote down
their remarks, and delivered them to their master. I was
told that his
intention is to have similar instruments made here by
Chinese workmen,
and to fit them to a scale of his own.

Dan Leeson
dnleeson@-----.net

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