Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Elizabeth Moak

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Ellen Elder

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Christopher Goertzen

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 4 Department


Committee Member 5

Hsiaopei Lee

Committee Member 5 Department



Beijing opera (known as jingju in Chinese) dates back to 1790 and is the most famous traditional Chinese regional opera of some 335 different styles, combining music, vocal performance, dance, and acrobatics. Originally considered vulgar by the court, Beijing opera became especially popular with the Qing dynasty court in its later days (1884-1910), thus raising its status at the beginning of the twentieth century to a ‘national opera.’ Furthermore, it has become an important nationalistic and traditional element in Chinese contemporary music.

Qigang Chen studied and lived in Europe for long time and is proficient in Western compositional techniques. On the other hand, as a Chinese-born composer, he is rooted in Chinese conventions. Through his family upbringing, Chen is intimately familiar with Chinese traditional music and art. He has a strong emotional connection to his national music, especially the art of the Beijing opera. However, in his music, he deliberately fuses both Chinese and Western musical styles; he does not simply adopt Western compositional technique in order to transmit Chinese traditional music via Western instruments. Chen’s music has its own unique style, which is combined with the sonority and sense of Western music and the melody and sensibility of Chinese music.

This research explores Qigang Chen’s use of Beijing opera elements in his piano concerto Er Huang while also presenting overviews of Chen, Beijing opera elements in Chinese piano music, Chinese music theory, and Beijing opera in general.

This limited research on the piano concerto Er Huang will serve as a scholarly resource that will help introduce the combination of Chinese piano music and Beijing opera elements to Western pianists.