Westernisation, Ideology and National Identity in 20th-Century Chinese Music

Yiwen Ouyang

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

732 Downloads (Pure)


The twentieth century saw the spread of Western art music across the world as Western ideology and values acquired increasing dominance in the global order. How did this process occur in China, what complexities does it display and what are its distinctive features? This thesis aims to provide a detailed and coherent understanding of the Westernisation of Chinese music in the 20th century, focusing on the ever-changing relationship between music and social ideology and the rise and evolution of national identity as expressed in music.

This thesis views these issues through three crucial stages: the early period of the 20th century which witnessed the transition of Chinese society from an empire to a republic and included China’s early modernisation; the era from the 1930s to 1940s comprising the Japanese intrusion and the rising of the Communist power; and the decades of economic and social reform from 1978 onwards. The thesis intertwines the concrete analysis of particular pieces of music with social context and demonstrates previously overlooked relationships between these stages. It also seeks to illustrate in the context of the appropriation of Western art music how certain concepts acquired new meanings in their translation from the European to the Chinese context, for example modernity, Marxism, colonialism, nationalism, tradition, liberalism, and so on.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Morcom, Anna, Supervisor
  • Cook, Nicholas, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Dec 2012
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


  • 20th-century Chinese music
  • Westernisation
  • Westernization
  • national identity

Cite this