Yellow River Cantata黄河大合唱 – Chinese Songs


Chinese Name: 黄河大合唱

English Name: Yellow River Cantata

Composer: Xian Xinghai 冼星海 Guang Weiran光未然(张光年)

Yellow River Cantata
Yellow River Cantata

The Yellow River Cantata, composed by Guang Weiran(lyrics) and Xian Xinghai(music), was first shown in 1939. The song was impassioned and played an encouraging role in China’s Anti-Japanese war.

Composition Story of Yellow River Cantata

In January 1939, after the poet “Guang Weiran” arrived in Yan’an, he created the recitation poem “Chanting of the Yellow River” and recited it at the New year’s Eve Party this year. Xian Xinghai was very excited and said that he would create the Yellow River Cantata for the acting team; In March of the same year, in a humble earth kiln in Yan’an, Xian Xinghai fell ill and wrote for six consecutive days. On March 31, he completed the composition of the Yellow River Cantata. Taking the Yellow River, the birthplace of the Chinese nation, as the background, he enthusiastically eulogized the indomitable belief of the Chinese people in defending the motherland.

Guang Weiran
Guang Weiran
Xian Xinghai
Xian Xinghai


About the Composer of Yellow River Cantata

In addition to its achievements in music, the Yellow River Chorus is moving because it is full of sincerity and therefore more infectious. Guang Weiran was only 26 years old when he created this work, and Xian Xinghai was only 34 years old.

Guang Weiran came from Hubei. If he had not met the war, he would live in poverty and contentment like every little intellectual – he is a shopkeeper in a bookstore, usually contacts with scholars, and he is also learning poetry writing from local famous people. However, when the Japanese aggressors opened the way with their guns and swallowed the great rivers and mountains of China, they did not have the cowardice of old-fashioned literati and were full of the heart of serving the country. He resolutely gave up his leisurely life and actively devoted himself to the Anti-Japanese singing movement.


Xian Xinghai, born in Macao, is the only Chinese admitted to the advanced composition class of the Paris Conservatory of music. He has outstanding talent, but he comes from a poor family. He has to do chores in restaurants every day to make a living. However, even if life was difficult, Xian Xinghai was not tempted by the drunken fans of Shanghai after returning home. Facing the incomplete land of the motherland, he still devoted himself to the national salvation music activities.

A version of Yellow River Cantata Played in Moscow

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