- Frank Kouwenhoven
(b Beijing, May 13, 1955). Chinese composer. He studied composition with Su Xia at the Central Conservatory in Beijing. His Piano Quintet (1984) led Ligeti to invite him to Hamburg, where Ligeti taught him for several years at the Musikhochschule and supported him financially. Chen’s String Quartet no.1 (1986–7) was awarded a first prize in Donaueschingen in 1987. He remained in Hamburg as an independent composer after 1989, and participated in founding the Gesellschaft für Neue Musik Hamburg (1992) and a computer music studio.
Chen’s music, like that of his compatriot Tan Dun, can be described as a continuous play of light and darkness, of delicate timbral shades and tiny variations in pitch. Most of his works are introvert, austere, tightly structured and fairly complex in nature, betraying a deep involvement in European music from Ligeti to Scelsi and beyond. Yet there are constant references in Chen’s works to Chinese traditional music and culture. The elegant Duet for violin and ...