The Heritage of Kunqu: Preserving Music and Theater Traditions in China

  • Isabel K. F. Wong

Kunqu (pronounced kwun-chü) is a form of Chinese musical theater. The first syllable of the name is derived from the name of its birthplace Kunshan, a small city in the Lower Yangzi region, situated between Shanghai and Suzhou. The second syllable, “qu,” denotes either aria lyrics, a vocal style, an aria repertory, or a type of musical theater, depending on contexts. As musical theater, kunqu rose to a dominant position on the national stage around the mid-sixteenth century when the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) was at the height of its glory. The Ming had remarkable achievements in culture and the arts, and Ming skills in printing and the manufacture of porcelain and silk reached high technical achievements. Flourishing commerce in the Ming period created a new level of prosperity and supported a sophisticated urban life in which kunquformed an important component. The Ming were succeeded by the Manchu, who subsequently established the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). The Manchu realized that...


Professional Actor Cultural Revolution Theatrical World Young Audience Phonetic Component 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Music, and International Programs and Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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