‘Zhou Long displays a stunning (quasi-tactile) orchestral imagination that dramatically demonstrates his skill of embedding elements of the two cultures in a consistent, seamless, and original musical language.’
American Academy of Arts and Letters
‘Zhou Long is one of a group of Chinese composers, brought up during the Cultural Revolution and now living in the West, who are creating striking works that fuse memories and music from the East with Western-style compositions. Drawing on Chinese folk songs, literature, poetry and history, they are the first generation of Chinese composers to be widely performed around the world.’
Zhou Long (b. July 8, 1953, Beijing) is internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, including folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. His creative vision has resulted in a new music that stretches Western instruments eastward and Chinese instruments westward, achieving an exciting and fertile common ground.
Zhou Long was born into an artistic family and began piano lessons at an early age. During the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to a rural state farm, where the bleak landscape with roaring winds and ferocious wild fires made a profound and lasting impression. He resumed his musical training in 1973, studying composition, music theory, and conducting, as well as Chinese traditional music. In 1977, he enrolled in the first composition class at the reopened Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Following graduation in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China. Zhou Long travelled to the United States in 1985 under a fellowship to attend Columbia University, where he studied with Chou Wen-Chung, Mario Davidovsky, and George Edwards, receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music from China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s prestigious Adventurous Programming Award in 1999.
Zhou Long was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in Music for his first opera, Madame White Snake. In their citation the jurors described the work as 'a deeply expressive opera that draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend the musical traditions of the East and the West.' He has been awarded 2012-2013 Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the largest prize devoted to chamber music composition and is presented every two years in recognition of significant contributions to the field. Zhou Long is currently Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.
In 2012, Zhou Long composed two orchestral works: University Festival Overture and Beijing Rhyme - A Symphonic Suite, commissioned by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, premiered and recorded on EMI in 2013; a solo piano work Pianobells, commissioned by Dr. Susan Chan and premiered at the Musica Nova concert in the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; a chamber work, Cloud Earth for chamber ensemble, commissioned by The New York New Music Ensemble and premiered on its 35th anniversary celebration at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. In 2013, Zhou Long composed his epic evening-length symphonic work Nine Odes on poems by Qu Yaun (ca. 340 BCE - 278 BCE) for four solo vocalists and orchestra, commissioned by the Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation and premiered in October 2013 as a tribute to his 60th.
2014 saw the completion of a new chamber work, Tales from the Nine Bells, co-commissioned and premiered by the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in New York and Wigmore Hall in London for their 2014 Seasons, and a new piano concerto, Postures, co-commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and BBC Proms, which was premiered on 4 July 2014 in Singapore and 2 September 2014 at Royal Albert Hall, as part of the BBC Proms' 2014 season.
Recent work includes a commission from the World Saxophone Congress – Temple Bugler for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra is an adaption of his earlier work The Rhyme of Taigu, and was premiered at the World Sax Open in July 2015. Zhou Long was also commissioned to compose a 9 minute piece for solo horn, to be used in the 2016 ARD International Music Competition.
A United States citizen since 1999, Zhou Long is married to the composer-violinist Chen Yi. It should be noted that Zhou is his family name and Long is his personal name, and thus he should be referred to as Mr. Zhou or Dr. Zhou.