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Post Li Jiefu, Red Musician
Created by John Eipper on 01/29/18 2:48 PM

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Li Jiefu, Red Musician (George Zhibin Gu, China, 01/29/18 2:48 pm)

Massive violence followed Lin Biao's death in 1971. Not only were innumerable high-ranking officials and military officers arrested, but millions of common people suffered as well.

Among those arrested in late 1971 was music composer Li Jiefu (1913-1976), president of Shangyang Music School in Liaoning province. Though he composed innumerable propaganda/cult songs and whole-heartedly promoted the divine power, he was imprisoned and died there. His crime: he was labeled a member of the so-called Lin Biao Counter-Revolutionary Group. Why? He once dined with Lin Biao and had contacts with some key generals of the group. Why did he meet Lin and his cohorts? He composed numerous cult songs for the military, as ordered. (He Changhe, Red Musician: Jie Fu, Beijing: People's Publisher, 2003.)

One of his innumerable cult songs has the title, "Long, Long Live Chairman Mao." It went,

"Dear Chairman Mao, your are the red sun inside our hearts...Dear Chairman Mao, we are your red guards; Dear Chairman Mao, you are our red chief commander; We have so many warm words to tell your majesty; We have so many magnificent songs to sing to your majesty...We swear to die to follow your majesty, forever conducting revolution, forever conducting revolution, forever conducting revolution, and forever conducting revolution!"

And he is the biggest composer of cult songs, many of which featured words from Mao's Little Red Book. Of course, his songs were ordered by the cult machine. On October 15, 1966, he wrote to the Guangmin Daily:

"Comrade Editor: Following your telephone call, I immediately began to turn [Mao's] three old papers into songs ...You can let actors sing to commoners...Also, I composed two songs from comrade Lin Biao's instructions on learning Chairman Mao's books...as well as other songs from Chairman Mao's selected speeches...Revolutionary Salute!" (Op.Cit. p. 291.)

One small event showed how popular he was among the rulers: "On the evening of July 29 [1967], Zhou Enlai ...Jiang Qing [Mao's wife]... examined the performance program for the military's anniversary celebration. The Prime Minister and Jiang Qing were instructed to host Jie Fu at the hotel belonging to Beijing's military district and have him turn Chairman Mao's poems into songs." (Op.Cit.  p.318.)

In the entire Communist era, he is the most productive cult composer and composed hundreds of cult songs. Actually, his work started in 1937 when he joined the Party. These cult songs have overwhelmed the nation for decades. The songs dominated the daily cult rituals for many years. Today, some of them remain popular in the state media.

But after Lin Biao died, the rulers' surging fear made Li Jiefu a prisoner, along with countless other victims in Shenyang, the provincial capital of Liaoning. Even his wife was imprisoned. Some of them were locked inside a hotel for many, many years. They each were ordered to confess their "crimes." So, they produced countless "confessions." In addition, there were innumerable mass denunciation meetings to attack them. Li was given five criminal hats. He became terribly ill, but he was denied medical help and died in 1976. His wife was imprisoned for one additional year.

In the reform era, his children had to fight hard for two things: First, they helped to gain "justice" for their victimized parents. Second, they have bitterly fought to gain copyrights for their dead father's cult songs. And the fight has been lengthy. Though the cult machine employs those cult songs for its interests, it is not willing to share the profits with the composer's children.

Back in 1971-1976, the officials in power used purges to harm people. The divine machine sought to eliminate potential foes, so that these officials selected undesirable people for harm. Anyone could become a victim. Even many Maoist rebels were victimized. As one example, in the remote rural Cixi county of Zhejiang province, the local officials imprisoned four Maoist rebels, among others. ("Cixi's Attack Lin Campaign," December 31, 2010, at http://cxsz.cixi.gov.cn/art/2010/12/31/art_46132_790228.html.

JE comments:  Why do revolutions so often eat their own children?  I'm sure Li Jiefu's story is not unique.  A question for George Zhibin Gu:  is Li, after his rehabilitation, now celebrated as one of China's great twentieth-century songwriters, or is he largely forgotten?  Presumably among today's hip Chinese, Li's musical calls to revolution sound dated and silly.

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