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Horse Racing on the Two Strings of Erhu

Mar 19, 2009

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”.

Mongolian Naadam Horse Racing

Mongolian Naadam Horse Racing

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.

Various versions

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..

[Chinese Keywords]
二胡 赛马

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  1. Danny
    November 3rd, 2009 at 01:38 | #1

    i was wondering if you can tell me more about this song. I have been looking every where for information about “Horse Racing” and this is the only source i have found so far. i was wondering if you can send me some websites that have information about that song, “Horse Racing”. My email is dnnyhua@yahoo.com
    thank you

  2. Dwight
    April 13th, 2010 at 21:32 | #2

    Thank you for the information. For such a popular song in China, it’s so hard to find information on this song! Thanks! If you have any other additional information, like the music sheet and the composer’s biography can you send me some additional information? I would like to learn how to play this song!

  3. Mary
    January 8th, 2012 at 20:05 | #3

    I am doing a school project for my music class on this piece, could you send me the links to other sources where you got your information, and anything else about this song? Is it easy to find sheet music for this song? Thank you!

  4. January 8th, 2012 at 23:44 | #4

    @Mary, well, I would love to help you more. However, it’s not easy even for me to find sheet music for these Chinese songs. Welcome to share here if your school project research finds some interesting info. Thanks for your comment!

  5. rodrigo
    November 11th, 2012 at 19:53 | #5

    Hello, could you plase tell me if this song is in the public domain or copyrighted?

  6. November 11th, 2012 at 20:11 | #6

    Hi, Rodrigo, I am not sure. But the composer has passed away in 1967. It’s 45 years from now, less than 50 years. So I guess it’s still under protection by Chinese copyright law.

  7. Micky
    February 17th, 2014 at 19:15 | #7

    Hello. I see you all want horse racing on sheet music. Well I have good news. I have put on paper, and anyone who wants it email me at asiann2499@gmail.com
    Your Welcome…

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