Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Anne Stone

Committee Members

Nancy Rao

Joseph Straus

Jeffrey Taylor

Subject Categories



Chinese diaspora, shamanism, Cultural Revolution, orientalism, Chinatown, downtown


The Pulitzer Prize (2011, Zhou Long’s Madame White Snake), a Metropolitan opera commission (Tan Dun’s The First Emperor, premiered 2006), and the Ives Living Award (Chen Yi, 2001) are just some of the high-profile awards and commission bestowed upon Chinese émigré composers who have studied and built their professional reputation in New York City. The works of Chinese composers constitute what I call “new Chinese music,” which I argue has played a defining role in New York City’s cultural landscape and in the development of Western art music in general. The influence of Chinese composers and their works is twofold: Chinese composers have participated in the various musico-stylistic movements in New York City in the latter twentieth century and have contributed to the City as a site for musical transnationalism. Furthermore, new Chinese music has led to the change in public perception of Chinese musicians and composers from voiceless exotics to agents of innovation.

This dissertation frames the phenomenon of the rise of the first two generations of Chinese composers in New York City as a revival movement. The first chapter examines Chou Wen-Chung’s (1923–2019) execution of literary governance (a concept borrowed from Jing Tsu). As the patriarch of the “New York School” of new Chinese music, Chou devoted himself to the revival of the Chinese scholarly (wenren) tradition. The second chapter discusses the revival of Tang-Dynasty cosmopolitanism in the works of Zhou Long, a student of Chou’s. The revival of Chinese nationalism in musical memorials by Bright Sheng and Chen Yi is the topic of the third chapter, while the fourth chapter delves into the revival of shamanic ritual theatre in Tan Dun’s musical activities in New York City. Ultimately, the various revival movements form the foundation of musical transnationalism, which I define as a mode of musical production informed by transnational consciousness, and an aesthetics characterized by flexible accumulation and combination of musical resources.

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