La Biennale di Venezia

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September 30th, 2017

Tan Dun

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Awards Ceremony

Saturday September 30th 2017

Teatro alle Tese - 8:00 pm

Tan Dun

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music has been awarded to Chinese composer Tan Dun.

Tan Dun's music, which brings together the Chinese shamanic tradition with the Western avant-garde, is a remarkably interesting case in contemporary music today, and has rapidly become an extraordinary popular phenomenon. Through his idea of music as a phenomenon of collective communication that ties together tradition and innovation, history with the present day, Tan Dun has become an advocate for the greatest openness in cultural globalization, with themes such as the conservation of nature which pervades many of his musical scores. His ideal of organic music in symbiosis with the environment, in which natural elements such as water, stones and objects made of paper or ceramic interact with the traditional orchestral instruments, has made him a unique figure in music around the world. As the composer of film scores, Tan Dun achieved world fame with the soundtrack to the film "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" (2000), for which he won an Oscar and a Grammy award. Tan Dun was the official composer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and is a UNESCO Ambassador of Music.

Biographical notes

Tan Dun (Si Mao – China, 1957) – With a diploma from the Conservatory in Beijing and a degree from Columbia University in New York, Tan Dun's music is performed by the most important orchestras and ensembles in the world, and by the most outstanding soloists, but most importantly it is familiar to a vast audience thanks to a repertoire that ranges from classical music to multimedia performance to films.

The Internet Symphony, commissioned by Google/YouTube, has been viewed by over 15 million people online; Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic Concerti has been performed in the major concert halls and at the most important festivals; his multimedia work, The Map, was premiered by Yo-Yo Ma with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and has toured more than 30 countries around the world; The Gate (Orchestral Theatre IV), premiered by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, crosses the borders between various cultures, from the Beijing Opera, to the western lyric opera tradition to puppet theatre; Marco Polo, an opera that counts four different productions, won the Grawemeyer Award, to this day the most prestigious award for composition; Peony Pavillion, directed by Peter Sellars, has been performed over 50 fifty times in the most important capitals of the world (Vienna, Paris, London, Rome); the soundtrack for Ang Lee's film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, won an Academy Award and a Grammy Award.

Furthermore: Ghost Opera toured around the world with the Kronos Quartet; Symphony 1997, which was performed in its world premiere by cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the Imperial Bells Ensemble of China and the Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestra to commemorate the unification of Hong Kong and China, was broadcast live around the world; Water Passion after St. Matthew for the Internationale Bachakadamie in Stuttgart, was performed by the RIAS Kammerchor for the international festival commemorating the 250th anniversary of Bach's death; Death and Fire made its debut with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by James Levine; 2000 Today: A World Symphony for the Millennium, a “symphonic mosaic” for the 2000 New Year's celebrations, was broadcast live by the BBC, PBS Television, Sony Classical and a television consortium of over 55 networks around the world who joined the celebrations gradually as midnight struck across the various time zones of the  world; the music for the awards ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, commissioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC);Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo for the Berlin Philharmonic and the piano concerto The Fire for Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic.

His future projects include a concerto for percussions written for soloist Martin Grubinger and a concerto for harp inspired by the mysterious Nu Shu calligraphy, secretly used by the women of the Hunan province where Tan Dun was born.


His international acknowledgments are many: Tan Dun was named "classical musician of the year" in 1997 by the New York Times; in 1996 he was selected for the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Prize in Music and Communication; in 1995 he was selected by Hans Werner Henze to be a member of the jury for the Munich International Music Theatre Award; he won the Grawemeyer Award, to this day the most prestigious award for composition, for his opera Marco Polo and an Academy Award for the soundtrack of Ang Lee's film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Tan Dun was also the artistic director of the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival in 1999.

He was the director of the “Fire Crossing Water” Festival at the Barbican Centre in London, where he worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta.


Tan Dun records for all the major record labels: Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, EMI and Opus Arte.

Tan Dun's music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer. Inc.

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