Tan Dun


Tan Dun is a Chinese contemporary classical composer, most widely known for his Grammy and Oscar-award winning scores for the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero.

Tan Dun was born in the village of Simao, Changsha in the Hunan province of China. As a child, he was fascinated by the role of the shimao in his village, who conducted rituals and ceremonies, often set to music made with organic objects such as rocks and water. However, as a child in the midst of China's cultural revolution, he found this kind of "backward thinking" frowned upon, and he was sent to work as a rice planter on a government commune.

That, however, had little effect on his affinity for music. He created his own musical group, utilizing peasants in the village playing whatever they could, sometimes just banging on pots and pans. It was from these peasants that he began to learn to play traditional Chinese string instruments.

His escape from the commune came in the form of a government sponsored touring company of the Peking opera. When a ferry full of performers capsized near the commune, killing several of them, Tan was employed by the troupe and left the commune.

From there he went to the China Conservatory of Music, and studied with musicians such as Toru Takemitsu, who strongly influenced his musicianship, and his sense of musical style.

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