Guangren Zhou – China

Linked with The Piano Is My Life – female pianist Zhou Guangren.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Zhou Guangren was the first Chinese pianist to be placed in an international piano competition. Electing to remain in her homeland in spite of invitations and offers to do otherwise, Zhou Guangren has become almost a legendary name connected to piano music and music education in China. She survived the many vicissitudes of her life: her parents’ objection to her choice of profession, her husband’s suicide during the Cultural Revolution, her hand injury while working on thefarms, a crushed hand when a piano collapsed on her. Each time she recovered, triumphant and determined. Today, she is happily remarried to a longtime family friend, Liu Shuoyong. (full text).

She says: “When you make efforts to realize your dream, you may encounter hardships. But as long as you make an effort, your dream will definitely come true”.

Professor Zhou Guangren with her husband, Professor Liu Shuoyong - China rogné.JPG

Professor Zhou Guangren with her husband, Professor Liu Shuoyong

She works for the Zhou Guangren Piano Art Center (mentionned on Sendai International Music Competition

Zhou Guangren, one of the most distinguished Chinese women of the 20th century, is a famous pianist, educationist, and music/social activist. She has made a tremendous contribution to the popularization of piano education by promoting piano grade examinations and conducting international competitions in China.

She has also systematically introduced Chinese piano works to the world. Zhou Guangren was born in Germany in 1928 and returned to China to study in a German school in Shanghai in 1933. Her parents, with whom she had returned, hoped that she would achieve success with her foreign language advantage.

However, deeply influenced by music, she was determined to study piano and was almost crazy for it. She set herself a goal to be a pianist but had to deal with her parents’ objections. They thought it would be impossible for her to survive in the world with music and she should not take up music as an occupation.

Nevertheless, she was resolute and broke up with her family when her father refused to pay for her tuition. The 16-year-old Zhou paid the expensive fee of US$20 per month to a foreign teacher in order to learn how to play and gave tuitions herself to 20 students to earn this. She bought herself a bike with her first month’s salary and, regardless of the weather, she shuttled throughout Shanghai to her pupils’ homes. Despite the difficulties, she was determined to persevere in her study of the piano.

In 1949, she began teaching in the Shanghai Music college. In 1951-52, she went to Eastern Europe with the Chinese Youth Cultural Troupe, and at the world youth peace and friendship celebration convened in Berlin, Germany, she won the third prize.

She was the first Chinese to win a prize in an international piano competition. She said that prize played a crucial role in her life.

Since then she began to dream of being a pianist and longed to score better in the future. More importantly, for the first time she felt the great force of Chinese arts when she visited Germany. She put it like this: ” I have received an all round artistic education and set up a clearer goal in politics.”

When she was full of hope for her life, the Cultural Revolution broke out and lasted 20 years, during which she was demoted to a suburb and cleaned pigsties and toilets and planted crops. In 1968 her husband committed suicide due to the unbearable humiliation, and this was a heavy blow to her.

Her two small children could not share her pain and she gave her cherished piano to a student. She never imagined that one day she would be able to play the piano again.

After the Cultural Revolution, she convened many concerts and gave vent to the accumulated anguish of the past 20 years. To her disappointment, when she was preparing for an international piano concert on May 4, 1982, her three fingers were squashed as she tried to protect the piano from being damaged.

Doctors set her broken bones. Though she still had her fingers, they hurt greatly, especially the middle finger. In order to play the piano again, she overcame one difficulty after another and endured great pain. In 1984 she accepted an invitation from Britain and played the A major key piano concerto by Mozart in London. Though she had not fully recovered from the pain, she managed to play exquisite music because of her special playing style, and enchanted the audience.

Professor Zhou regained her confidence and started her life of music again. Her entire life has revolved around the piano. After she had the accident, she shifted more to the cause of piano education. In 1982 she set up the amateur Xinghai Piano School and hoped that she could impart her piano dream to many more youngsters and children.

In 1990 she set up the Yueyou Piano School. She promoted music by engaging in large-scale piano teacher training.

Between 1995 and 2005, she organized ten large training courses, and 1600 teachers were trained. In 2004, she founded the Zhou Guangren Piano Art Center for piano teacher training.

Zhou has made a tremendous contribution to the cause of the piano, not only in terms of piano performance and education, but also in the field of organization and propaganda.

She has traveled a lot for the development of China’s piano cause and has covered almost all major cities of China. She hopes that every heart in every city can be sublimated by the piano and she is the best disseminator of information and knowledge about this instrument.

She was invited to tour the USA in 1980 and she lectured in 29 universities and staged over 30 performances in as many cities. She is the first person to systematically introduce Chinese piano music and history to the world.

Since 1981, she has also served as adjudicator in over 20 international piano competitions. She hopes that Chinese music and Chinese piano will one day embrace the world.

She has been engaged in her cause of piano not merely for her own sake, but also for a larger group, and indeed, for the nation. (1000PeaceWomen).

Her career as a concert pianist started in the 1940s, when she was invited to perform with the Shanghai Municipal Orchestra and later with the Central Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, playing Mozart, Chopin and Schumann concert. In 1951 to 1952 she toured Eastern European countries with the China Youth Ensemble. She was prize-winner during the III World Youth & Students Peace Festival in East Berlin, 1951 and also prize-winner of the I Schumann International Piano Competition in East Germany , 1956. She was engaged as soloist at the Central Philharmonic Orchestra until 1955, before she became piano professor at the Central conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she is on the faculty until now and was Chairman of the Piano Department. In 1980, she visited 29 Universities in the United States of America giving lectures and recitals. In the 1990s, she has performed and lectured in -Mannheim, Hannover and London and often gives concerts and master-classes in Mainland China and Hong Kong. (full text).

… For nearly twenty years she has worked to establish children’s piano schools, organize competitions, and promote both live and televised concerts from Beijing, where she is also Editor-in-Chief of Piano Artistry magazine. She assisted in organizing the First and Second China International Piano Competitions and served as jury chairman for both. Mme. Zhou sparked an international concert career by winning a prize in the 1956 Schumann Competition in Berlin … (full text).

… Members of the Twelfth International Piano Competition jury reveal individual considerations that impact their assessment of young artists as well as performance/repertoire trends, which appear to be emerging over the past decade. Of particular interest, the scoring system and voting procedures used by the Van Cliburn Competition Jurors will be explained in detail, June 3 … (full text).


Letters to the Editor, February 2002;

on Sendai International Music Competition;

Past Juries of the Vianna da Motta Competition;


The Eighth Competition, April 1995.

Sorry, I can find no other information of Yue Chen China in the internet, being certified it would be the wanted person.

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