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Tan Dun

Tan Dun

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Though he became best known around the world for his film soundtrack work, Chinese composer Tan Dun has a deep background in modern classical composition. Born August 18, 1957 in Changsha, China, he began working with the Peking Opera during the Cultural Revolution. Later, he attended China's Central Conservatory, where he learned from a dazzling array of visiting composers including George Crumb and Toru Takemitsu. When he moved to New York City in 1986, Dun had already distinguished himself as a composer in his own country. While attending a doctoral program at Columbia University he became enmeshed in the NYC avant-garde scene, soaking up the work of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, et al. In 1989 he composed his first opera, 9 Songs. Dun pioneered the concept of "organic music," made by instruments constructed from natural materials like stone, paper, and water; he eventually began to introduce this concept into his operas, taking them into a striking new direction. But it was his cinematic scores that really made Tan Dun a star across the globe. That fame first came from the music he wrote for Ang Lee's 2000 martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Dun earned both an Oscar and a Grammy for...

Though he became best known around the world for his film soundtrack work, Chinese composer Tan Dun has a deep background in modern classical composition. Born August 18, 1957 in Changsha, China, he began working with the Peking Opera during the Cultural Revolution. Later, he attended China's Central Conservatory, where he learned from a dazzling array of visiting composers including George Crumb and Toru Takemitsu. When he moved to New York City in 1986, Dun had already distinguished himself as a composer in his own country. While attending a doctoral program at Columbia University he became enmeshed in the NYC avant-garde scene, soaking up the work of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, et al. In 1989 he composed his first opera, 9 Songs. Dun pioneered the concept of "organic music," made by instruments constructed from natural materials like stone, paper, and water; he eventually began to introduce this concept into his operas, taking them into a striking new direction. But it was his cinematic scores that really made Tan Dun a star across the globe. That fame first came from the music he wrote for Ang Lee's 2000 martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Dun earned both an Oscar and a Grammy for the score. He had already penned scores for a couple of films before that, but later he would craft the music for the Chinese movies Hero and The Banquet. Still, film represents only a small portion of the Tan Dun catalog; over the years he has composed everything from a concerto for a dozen cellos for The Berlin Philharmonic (Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo) to the rather self-explanatory Earth Concerto for stone and ceramic percusson and orchestra. But whatever mode he works in, Dun's knack for combining Chinese musical traditions with a more modernistic approach has made him a kind of cross-cultural musical ambassador. And in 2013 he very literally became one, with his appointment as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

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CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Hero (2003)
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