Jiang Wen-Ye

Jiang Wen-Ye

Real Name:
江文也 (pinyin: Jiāng Wényě)
Jiang Wen-Ye (1910–1983) was a Taiwanese composer, active mainly in Japan and later in China. Three hieroglyphs of his name are pronounced Kō Bunya (こう ぶんや) or Bunya Koh in Japanese. In his original compositions, Wen-Ye had been merging traditional Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese music with modernist and contemporary elements.

Jiang was born in 1910 to Chinese parents in Tamsui, Taiwan, a Japanese territory at the time, so he became a citizen of Japan by birth. Wen-Ye attended evening classes at the Tokyo Music School and became a singer. In 1932, Jiang Wen-Ye started working as a baritone for Columbia Records and joined Yoshie Fujiwara's Opera Company.

Wen-Ye became a pupil of prominent composers Kosaku Yamada and Kunihiko Hashimoto in 1933. His orchestral work Formosan Dance was honorary mentioned at the Berlin art competition in 1936. Alexander Tcherepnin promoted Jiang's talent and published his works in Europe, USA, and China. Kō Bunya soon became one of the most frequently played composers in Japan.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, Jiang started working as a professor of musical arts at the Teacher's College in Beijing, which was then under Japanese control. In the following years, he had been commuting between Beijing and Tokyo, where his family resided. Under the Japanese surrender in 1945, Wen-Ye lost his citizenship and became practically banned in Japan.

In the communist People's Republic of China, Jiang was considered bourgeois and ideologically hostile due to his cultural bonds to Japan and aesthetic affinity with European modernism. He was forced to comply with a government party taste and nonetheless became a political target during the Cultural Revolution in 1966.

His honest name was restored in China only in 1978. Following his exoneration, today Jiang Wen-Ye has been rediscovered by new audiences in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Japan.