Ceremony to mark passing of soprano legend

Updated: 2012-02-10 09:58

By Mu Qian (China Daily)

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BEIJING - A farewell ceremony will be held on Friday for well-known singer and teacher Jiang Ying, who passed away in Beijing on Sunday at the age of 92.

Ceremony to mark passing of soprano legend

 Jiang Ying (1919-2012)

"The leaving of Jiang Ying is a great loss to the education of vocal art in China, but we will carry on the work with her spirit," said Wang Cizhao, president of the Central Conservatory of Music.

Jiang, a Chinese soprano and professor of vocal music, was the wife of famous rocket scientist Qian Xuesen, who passed away in 2009.

The Central Conservatory of Music will hold a farewell ceremony for Jiang at the 301 Hospital of Beijing at 10 am.

Born in Beijing on Aug 11, 1919, Jiang was the third daughter of military theorist and trainer Jiang Baili, and his Japanese wife Sato Yato. At the age of 4, her family moved to Shanghai, where she studied at the Shanghai Municipal Council Girls' School.

She went to Europe with her father in 1936 and studied vocal music with Hermann Weissenborn at Hochschule fr Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin, graduating in 1941. To avoid the war in Germany, Jiang moved to neutral Switzerland, where she graduated from Musikhochschule Luzern in 1944.

She went back to China after World War II, and was acclaimed by the Shanghai music circle when she gave her debut recital in the city on May 31, 1947.

In September that year, she married rocket scientist and engineer Qian, who co-founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States and later led the space program of China.

The couple moved to the United States later that year. They returned to China in 1955.

Jiang was a vocalist with the former Central Experimental Opera of China between 1956 and 1959. She studied Chinese narrative music and traditional operas, and performed for people in the street, mines and train stations with her troupe.

From September 1959 until she retired in 1989, she taught at the Voice and Opera Department of Central Conservatory of Music.

Her students include many of today's famous vocalists in China, like Sun Xiuwei, Fu Haijing, Zhao Dengfeng and Zhu Ailan.

"Jiang Ying was a great teacher who cared very much about bringing up young students, and she has contributed a great deal to the vocal education of Central Conservatory of Music and also of the country as a whole," said Wang.

He remembers being warmly received by Jiang in the early 1980s when he was a young teacher at the conservatory and went to ask her some questions about opera. Jiang not only gave him an extensive answer but also came back to him a few days later with more materials that could help his research.

As China's leading rocket scientist and engineer, Qian Xuesen also learned from his wife. "As a singer of German lieder, Jiang Ying introduced me to the world of musical art. The poetry and understanding of life contained in those songs enriched my vision and endowed me with a broad way of thinking. I have to thank my wife Jiang Ying in this respect," he once said.

The couple lived together for 62 years.