The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto is based on an ancient Chinese fairytale which is the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.
One version of the story goes that the only daughter of a wealthy family talks her father into allowing her to go to school. There she falls in love with a friend and fellow student to whom she eventually reveals her true identity. They pledge themselves to each other, but are thwarted after her family betroths her to another. The young man dies of a broken heart and on her way to her wedding she joins him magically in his grave. They emerge together as two butterflies.
Two young composers at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music wrote a short violin concerto based on the story in the 1950s, although it didn’t gain popularity until the 70s when it was released from censorship.
The NZSO recorded the sound track to a film of music and dance using the “synthesis of the concerto” with choreography inspired by Chinese martial arts and modern dance. You can watch this free on our website (using your library card number and PIN).