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He Liutang (1872~1933), Zi Yu Xiang, with child name Shen, nick named Big Shen by his countrymen, came from Bei Cun village Shawan. His grand-father was He Bozhong, his father He Houqi. His ancestors were the millionaires in the county until his grand-uncle generations. Most of his uncles and brothers went outside the county to struggle for life. 


He Liutang was the only child, studying ancient literature since childhood and later attending private school in the county. Then he dropped off from school, and practiced martial arts, very good at waving the Guanyu broadsword, especially archery shoot without unfailing accuracy. At his 20 years old, he joined the imperial examination held in Guangzhou, and won the county-qualified military officer. Later the Qing Dynasty imperial examination being demolished, he had to abandon martial arts, and focused on learning literary for a living. 


He was smart and talented, good at calligraphy and painting, thus deeply respected by his countrymen. He was born in a musician family, interested in music and opera songs since his childhood, and learned canton opera from his countryman Xue Baoyao who was famous as Gong Jiao plyer (a character in canton opera, also named Mo and Mo Jiao, played by a senior man with the image of white beard and righteousness), until he could perform on the stage as a gust performer. The canton operas he had played were San Nian Teaching Her Son, Holding the Lion to Appreciate Pictures, Wang Yanzhang Boating, of which his performance skills and singing tunes were no different from the professionals. He observed the daily life closely, and watched dragon boat racing many times, and repeatedly refined his grand-father¡¯s work Dragon Boats Competition, and finally recreated a new song Dragon Boats Fighting for Champion, which applied the canton opera rhythms of Di Ding (the strong bite), Di Bang (the weak bite) and cutting tones, making the music very bold, vigorous, reflecting the strong and vital Chinese spirit.


To make a living, he left his hometown for Hong Kong, being employed as a family teacher. In the ninth year of Republic of China (1920), he worked in the troupe of Hong Kong Zhong Shen Charity Association, and co-studied the Canton music¡¯s reform and development with canton famous musicians, such as Yan laolie, Luo Yi¡¯yuan, of which he contributed a lot.  


The troupe had abundant financial resources and a lot of talents, such as famous canton opera actors Guo Linshuang, Zeng Sanduo, Liang Shaofeng, Shao Kunlun, Feng Jinghua, Chen Feinong, Chen Feiwo and other famous bandsmen, as well as issued monthly magazine. Each installment published the troupe¡¯s pictures and extracted selections from the Canton opera and Canton music with Gong Chi Notation (a traditional Chinese musical notation), such as liu Lang Punished the Son, Love in the Dangerous City, some of which were edited and marked notations by Liu Hetang, and that contributed a lot on the promotion and reform for Canton Opera and Canton music. 


Zhong Shen Association had lots of students, and He liutang was one of the teachers. Among the students, there were Qian Dashu (Guang Ren), Yin Zizhong, He Dasha (Ze Min), and Lv Wencheng, who became the main players in New Moon Association and were honored as Four Kings in Canton music. .


And after that, He Liutang with his brothers and nephews constantly exchanged experience with Guangzhou famous Canton musicians Song Huabo, Song Yuwen, meanwhile often performed and recorded albums with Four Kings, which widely promoted the popularity of Canton opera and music. In the tenth year of Republic of China (1921), he assisted Qiu Heshou from Tai Shan to edit Guangdong¡¯s early music book Renewed Introduction on Piano (two episodes), and attentively reviewed the book and wrote the preface for it. This book provided great value on the study of Canton music.


During the period from nine to nineteen of Republic of China (from 1920~1930), He Liutang created abundant art works.


Until the year twenty one of Republic of China ( in 1932), he was unemployed and came back to Shawan. Due to no economic income, he fell depressed and his work Willow Trees Ups and Downs Was not finished but only the starting, which was to be finished by his younger brother. The next year, he died of illness and left nothing behind. When Qian Dashu came to offer condolence, he purchased his Pipa, in order to memorize him as well as support his economic and bid farewell to him. 


The Dragon Boat Fighting for Champion was He Liutang¡¯s representative work as well as a representative one for Canton music. Besides that, there were over ten pieces composed by him, such as Hui Wen Jin, Seven Stars around the Moon, The Drunk Man Crying for Moon, Oriole Crying in the Dawn, but most were lost and hard to trace and collect.

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