Aaron Avshalomov and new Chinese music in Shanghai, 1931-1947


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In this article, I position Russian composer Aaron Avshalomov (1894-1965) within the pre-1949 Shanghai music community at a crucial juncture in modern China's cultural development. First, I examine Avshalomov's eclectic background and identity as Chinese-acculturated foreigner, Russian-Jewish immigrant, and multifaceted musician, which uniquely situated him among Shanghai's influential foreign artists for experimentation with new blends of Chinese and Western music from 1931 to 1947. Second, I discuss how this exploration facilitated his contribution to the forging of a new, "national" Chinese music. Third, I describe Avshalomov's musical style by offering examples of Chinese-Western fusion composition. Finally, I demonstrate that Avshalomov was historically significant via the influence he had on Chinese musicians and through his foreshadowing of future musical developments. He thus serves as an individual exemplar of hybrid identity, creativity, and agency within a city and newly forming tradition that were also characteristically multivalent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-72
Number of pages23
JournalTwentieth-Century China
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

User-Defined Keywords

  • Avshalomov
  • Chinese music
  • Fusion composition
  • Hybridity
  • Pre-1949 Shanghai


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