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Veteran musician passes away

2010/07/04 18:39:26

Kaohsiung, July 4 (CNA) Veteran musician Huang You-di, longacclaimed as the greatest composer and conductor in contemporaryChinese history, died in a hospital in the southern port city ofKaohsiung Sunday at the age of 97.

Huang, who was also an educator and a man of letters, died ofmultiple organ failure at Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital. He hadbeen hospitalized for nearly a year after breaking both hips in afall at home, according to the hospital.

Among his 2,000-odd compositions, "Azaleas" -- a piece he wroteduring China's Anti-Japanese Aggression War to cheer up soldiers andtheir families -- is probably the most-sung song in the Chineseworld.

Huang wrote in his will nine years ago that there should be nofuneral for him. All he wanted was a cremation and for his ashes tobe scattered on a mountain, according to Huang's friends who tookcare of him. Huang is survived by three daughters, who live in theUnited States.

Born in China's Guangdong Province on Nov. 26, 1912, Huangbegan to play the organ at the age of 11 and by the age of 20, had decided to be a music teacher. He moved to Hong Kong at the age of 38 and in 1987, at the age of 76, moved to Taiwan, where he settled in Kaohsiung.

Huang's own life is an account of the history of modern China. Hewitnessed the Chinese Nationalist Revolution led by Sun Yat-sen, theNorthern Expedition launched by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and theAnti-Japanese Aggression War, as well as the new era for both Chinaand Taiwan.

Many of his works are not only musical masterpieces but alsoreflections of the great, turbulent and historic moments witnessed bythe Chinese people.

In his later years, Huang encountered Buddhism, whichconsequently led him to compose a great number of Buddhistdevotionals and tunes to which followers chant their sutras.

He also signed legal papers in which he forsook the intellectualproperty rights to his works, in the hope that more people would haveaccess to his songs for generations to come.

President Ma Ying-jeou visited Huang on his sickbed recently.During their meeting, Ma hummed "Azaleas," to the old musician' sdelight.

(By Chen Chao-fu and Deborah Kuo)