Dream of a Hundred Flowers

百花之梦, Op.26
for saxophone quartet and four Chinese Instruments (2011)

Study Score

by Fang Man





17 min


Music From China and Prism Quartet


Commissioned by Music From China and Prism Quartet with a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant


Saxophone Quartet, Erhu, Sheng, Pipa, Yangqin

Program Notes

Dream of a Hundred Flowers is composed for members of two distinguished ensembles: the Prism Quartet, who play SATB saxophones, and four members of the Music From China Ensemble, who play Chinese instruments Erhu, Sheng, Pipa and Yangqin. I fully exploit the wide registral and timbral range, inherent homogeneity that a saxophone quartet can offer, and explore extended techniques that are idiomatic to the saxophone, including various forms of articulation, multiphonics, glissandi, etc. Note that Saxophone is widely used in Jazz music. The four Chinese instruments are ancient instruments that can be traced back to as early as the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) and are often used to play traditional folk and opera music. Therefore, this piece draws inspiration from both traditional Chinese opera and jazz as it draws on the cultural heritages of both groups of instruments. Over the years, I have enjoyed employing a special compositional technique, which is to use instruments to imitate Peking opera speaking voices as if the instruments are speaking the human language. In this piece, I use the four saxophones to imitate a conversation between the characters in a traditional Peking opera: princess Hundred Flowers, general Haijun, and princess’ maid Jiang Hua-you. This opera tells a love and tragic story between princess Hundred Flowers and general Haijun. Finally, I would like to thank both ensembles for commissioning this piece and I would like to dedicate this piece to these wonderful musicians.