Ormandy in China: The Historic 1973 Tour
Ormandy in China
The Repertory for the Tour

Ormandy was asked to submit a list of proposed repertory to the U.S. State Department, who forwarded it to the Chinese officials for their approval. Nicholas Platt wrote in his memoir that there was endless haggling, "negotiating music programs as if they were treaties." The Chinese rejected Richard Strauss's Don Juan and Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun as "prurient and decadent." They suggested instead Copland's Billy the Kid and anything by Mozart or Schubert. They also requested Beethoven's Symphony no. 6, but Ormandy refused to consider the work because he did not like it.

Despite Ormandy's efforts to conform to the wishes of the Chinese- who approved a list of proposed programs in advance of the tour- repertory again became an issue once the orchestra was on its way to China. The Chinese were insistent about including the Beethoven Symphony no. 6 because it was a work favored by Jiang Qing. (According to U.S. diplomat John H. Holdridge, the work had been performed by a Chinese orchestra for a concert hosted by Jiang during Henry Kissinger's October 1971 visit to China-perhaps the first performance of Western music in China since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.) Because the Philadelphia Orchestra had not planned to perform the work, they had to borrow a set of parts from the Central Philharmonic Society.

Ottorino Respighi's The Pines of Rome was approved by the Chinese- presumably because the title evoked gentle images of nature-but as became apparent during its performance, no one in authority had listened to the work before agreeing to its being programmed.

Repertory performed during the Philadelphia Orchestra 1973 tour of China
The orchestra performed three programs in China: the tour started and ended with a program featuring three symphonies from three centuries (Mozart, Brahms, and Roy Harris). A program featuring the Yellow River Concerto, The Pines of Rome, and a Beethoven symphony was performed three times. (The performance that included the Beethoven Symphony no. 5-Ormandy's preferred Beethoven symphony-also opened with Wagner's Meistersinger Prelude.) The program for the 15 September concert was performed only once.
Program for the Philadelphia Orchestra 1973 tour of China
The changes to the concert schedule that had been negotiated upon the orchestra's arrival in China were all reflected in the program, which was printed in time for the first concert two days later.
This copy belonged to C. Wanton Balis Jr., president of the orchestra board. (Note the name written on the cover.) The two pages to the right show the programs for the Beijing concerts of 14 September (repeated on 21 September in Shanghai) and 15 September.

Eugene Ormandy with pianist Yin Chengzong
Beijing, 14 September 1973
Ormandy and the Chinese pianist had one rehearsal together, on the morning of 14 September, two days before their first performance of the Yellow River Concerto. According to U.S. diplomat Nicolas Platt, Ormandy thought that Yin had talent, but the pianist "was used to having his way," and Ormandy found him difficult to control. "I have never seen such a talented pianist play so badly," Ormandy told Platt, referring to Yin's irregular counting. Platt added, "Mr. Yin played without reference to Ormandy, who kept peering hopefully over his shoulder-in vain, because Yin only looked at him after he'd stopped playing."
Introduction The Trip Repertory for the Tour Central Harmonic Society Third Concert in Beijing Orchestra as Tourists Performances by the Chinese After the Tour Sond Recordings