was a composer and songwriter born in Xiangtan
in 1891. He is the "Father of Chinese popular music
. He is most notable for creating a new musical form with shidaiqu
after the fall of the Qing Dynasty
-- moving away from established musical forms.
One of the earliest instrument he studied was the guqin plucked string instruments
during his childhood. He mainly drew his earliest musical influences from his hunan
province hometown. He was inspired by local Chinese opera
flower drums which are performed over a stage theatre monologue. Because of this, it can be said that the very first inspiration of Chinese popular music are derived from these forms.
From 1916 to 1926 he was participating in mandarin textbook publishing for children. He wrote his first musical, and allowed his daughter Li Minghui to perform. In total he has 8 brothers. Some of the operas include The Sparrow and the Child and The Little Painter.
In 1927 he organized the "Chinese Dance School" and then the "Chinese Song and Dance Troupe" ().
His greatest source of Jazz influence would come from American Buck Clayton who worked with Li for two years. Clayton played a major role in shaping the musical scores written by Li.
In 1929 he organized the Bright Moonlight Song and Dance Troupe and toured around the country. The tour began mostly as political squeeze due to the National Revolutionary Army during the Northern Expedition. When he was situated at Singapore, that was when his "period song" compositions began. The style would have some western influence and it moved Chinese music to a new direction. Those period songs would then be labeled as shidaiqu.
In 1931 it merged into the China Film Company. This troupe also produced several musicals figures such as Zhou Xuan, who was groomed until Li's mastery. She would later become one of the Seven great singing stars of the Republic of China.
In 1949 he was a composer for the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. Li would eventually pay dearly for his fame. Classified as a founder of Yellow Music by the Communist Party of China, he became a victim of political persecution during the Cultural Revolution.
In his life time, critics derided his work as "Yellow Music
" because of its sexual associations. His work was labeled pornographic
and was accepted only by select groups. His music movement would later grow into the cantopop
phenomenon, which became the main genre of music in Hong Kong
respectively in the 20th century.