Horse Racing on the Two Strings of Erhu
A “HAPPY” Erhu masterpiece
For the people who don’t like Erhu, their major complain is about its sorrowful tune. Although you can play whatever music you want with erhu, lots of (maybe most) famous erhu pieces are about unhappy expression such as loneliness, homesickness, life difficulties, sufferings etc. (For example, the most famous erhu piece “Moon Reflected on Second Spring“). Honestly, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s about Chinese culture; maybe it’s inherited in the characteristics of erhu tunes.
However, there IS one famous “HAPPY” erhu masterpiece “Horse Racing”.
Composed by Huang Huai-Hai in 1964, this music made its debut that year on 4th “Spring of Shanghai” erhu solo contest and soon became famous national wide. This music describes the horse racing event in traditional Mongolian “Naadam Festival”.
Its simple rhythm is based on a Mongolian folk song “Red Flag Song”. Inspired by the folk song, the composer Huang successfully expanded the original 16-bar music into an international-wide famous masterpiece.
Since the first day of its debut, this music was played by various Erhu masters who made lots of creative revisions. The one in the video above was played by Master Min Hui-Fen. It is one of the most popular revisions, which is shorter and more exciting.
Ensemble version with seven Erhus or seven horses if you prefer
I included this one for several reasons.
First, the end of this version has the Erhu mimic of horse neighing when they reach the finish of race. Second, this is an ensemble version (seven erhus). You can imagine seven horses competing in the racing field. Third, this version was the oringinal non-abridged version (170sec vs. 90 sec) .
Langlang and his father – two racing horses
In 2003 at Carnegie Hall (New York City), this version was performed by the infamous Chinese pianist Lang Lang (Piano) together with his father Lang Guo-Ren (Erhu). Lang Lang played an excellent supporting role with his piano skill. This shows a rare but great combination of western and Chinese instruments.
You can get the Lang Lang Live at Carnegie Hall CD at Amazon.com..