Xian Xinghai (1905 – 1945), a native of Panyu in the Guangdong Province, composed one of the most remarkable pieces of Chinese music of the 20th century.
In 1934 he was the first Chinese student to enrol at the Paris Music Academy. Before he left the academy, Xian became the most outstanding student in the class and received an award from the college. In the summer of 1935, he returned to China. Later, he came to Yan‘an, where he accepted a position as Dean of the Music Department at the Luxun Conservatory of Music. It was in Yan‘an that Xian reached the peak of his artistic creation. The Yellow River, which was composed during this time, was Xian‘s most representative work.
In the Soviet Union, Xian died on October 30, 1945 at the age 40. Xian‘s music, however, became a motivational force for the Chinese revolution. Xian is a pioneer of modern Chinese music. Combined with the essence of western music, Xian‘s works are rich in both Chinese tradition and modern elements.