Mr. Tai-Hsiang Li, whose native place was Taitung, Taiwan, was born in an aboriginal family at Malan Township on Feb. 20, 1941. His father was Li, Kuang-Hsiung, and his mother was Ms. Li, Lien-Lien, a native of Puli Township, Nantou County.
After graduating from Music Department, National Taiwan Academy of Arts in autumn 1964, he was hired to serve as the chief first violinist of Taipei Symphony Orchestra. At Goethe Institute’s invitation in autumn 1972, he, German Professor Wolfram Konig, and other people formed a quartet, gave a performance in public, and were touring each big city in Taiwan and Southeast Asia winning a favorable view.
In spring 1971, he attempted to give an experimental multi-media performance in Taipei for the first time, to be an epochal presentation with deep historical significance, and soon afterwards, he obtained full Rockefeller scholarship in spring 1973, and went to each major music school and institute in the USA to visit, view, emulate, and engage in advanced studies at the United States Department of State’s invitation. After coming back to Taiwan in winter 1974, he was employed and served the post of conductor of Taiwan Provincial Symphony Orchestra and National Taiwan University Orchestra, and devoted himself to artistic creations at spare time.
In 1975, he published his orchestral music work “Phenomenon,” and conducted Taiwan Provincial Symphony Orchestra to cooperate to make the debut. In 1976, he published the tape music of “Rain, Zen, Simending,” and the cantata “Lee's Sacrifice to God,” which was rearranged to be the dance dramas of “Wu Feng” and “Shoot the Sun” by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre later. In spring 1977, he published “Pure Serene Music” in Tokyo, and “Song of the Earth” in Taipei. In autumn of the same year, he participated and performed in the program of the 3rd Asian New Media, Japan on invitation. In spring 1978, he held the first “Visions Springing Up from the Tradition” Concert, and performed the masterpieces such as “Surreal Chant.” In 1981, he published “Three Chapters of Fantasy” at Vlotho World Concert in Germany. In spring 1982, he published the fourth “Visions Springing Up from the Tradition, and performed “Feast of Beauty.” In spring 1983, he published the fifth “Visions Springing Up from the Tradition” and performed “New Tune” –performing campus folk songs in the form of orchestral chamber music.
In spring 1984, he finished the composition of the dance dramas “Three Chapters of Ordinary People”—four pianos and percussion music, and “Legacy”—orchestral music for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. In the same year, the military commissioned him to compose the small-scale opera “Legend of Zhang Qian,” and performed more than ten shows that were really popular, and set a good example for the military; in autumn 1985, he adapted this work to be the large-scale opera “Strong Wind Blows Up,” but it’s a pity that this work has not been published and performed.
On Nov. 30, 1986, he was commissioned by Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan to compose the piano quintet “Three Styles--Breath, Break, Flow,” and the work made the debut in “Contemporary Chinese Composers’ Joint Exhibition,” manifesting his talent and unique style, and winning people’s high opinion. In spring 1994, the piano quintet “Breath, Break, Flow” had made a successful performance again in Toronto, Canada. In spring 1987, he published the large-scale musical “The King of Chess.” In 1993, the chamber music “Mountain, String, Reed Pipe Wind Instrument,” in which he used Mandarin, Taiwanese, and aboriginal language to compose for female voice, percussion music, piano, and string quartet, was published and made the debut in National Concert Hall, Taipei.
Besides composing rigorous classical music works, Mr. Li paid much attention to music popularization for the first half of his life. He thinks art should walk out of the ivory tower, and maybe, a new space between art and popular music can be opened up. Therefore, he has composed a large number of popular art songs for many singers, such as: “The Olive Tree,” “Farewell,” “A Spring Sculpture,” “The Mistake,” “The Answer,” “Chrysanthemum Sigh,” “Journey,” “You Are All My Memories,” “The Sunshine Road,” “Bottle of Sighs,” and “Since You Ask.” These songs were all the rage at the time, and were wide-spreading for a long while. It’s mainly because his songs not only combine the exquisiteness of academy, but touch, explore, and ingeniously blend various cultures of diverse viewpoints.
Although having suffered from Parkinson’s disease in 1988, he has still fought stubbornly with his back to the wall for many years under the invasion and harassment of illness with symptoms such as trembling and having difficulty moving about. Furthermore, he finished the chamber music work of trio of vocal music, piano, and stringed music “Since I Met You That Time,” folk song, and art song series works after accepting the operations of Deep Brain Stimulation and implantable pulse generator in 2000. In recent years, he has been working for the aboriginal song composition. In 2002, he adopted the epic “Mountain Jilaya” composed by Lee, Lai-Wang to compose the aboriginal Amis epic cantata. From 2004 to 2005, he accepted the commission to compose the vocal music and orchestral music works of Hakka ballad, “Hakka Folk Song—Mountain and Farmland” for the native land, composed the work “Frightened to See Nihong Barrier” for puppet show, modern dance, vocal music, gongs and drums, suona horn, and stringed music, composed large-scale orchestral music works for Taiwan ballads such as “Cloudy Sky” and “Clinking Coins,” and recently, he completed the vocal music, percussion music, and large-scale orchestral music work “Hunting” with Amis epic. In addition to being public-spirited, he spares no efforts to promote native Taiwan and aboriginal music and culture.