chapter  3
18 Pages

Unravelling The East Is Red (1964): Socialist Music and Politics in the People’s Republic of China

The piece quoted above in the nation’s leading newspaper, Renmin ribao (People’s Daily) on 3 October 1964 stated that The East is Red was performed the previous evening in commemoration of the nation’s 15th anniversary. This was a quintessential musical production of Chinese socialism, meticulously constructed through narration, miming, songs and dances, as well as music, in order to convey a grand narrative of the history of the Chinese Communist Party (hereafter the CCP). Because of its wide circulation throughout the country in the 1960s and 1970s, it holds a place in the collective memory of a whole generation of Chinese people, as shown by the large number of memoirs and studies of it, as well as by several recent restagings of the work, not to mention the two reinterpretations, The Song of Chinese Revolution (1984) and Road to Revival (2009), presented in order to celebrate the nation’s 35th and 50th anniversaries respectively.