Ormandy in China: The Historic 1973 Tour
Ormandy in China
The Third Concert in Beijing

The stakes were high for the third concert in Beijing. Jiang Qing had announced that she and other Chinese officials would be attending. Ormandy had already agreed to program the Beethoven Symphony no. 6 in place of the Symphony no. 5, in accordance with Jiang's request, and it took up the first half of the program. According to U.S. diplomat Nicholas Platt, who was seated two rows behind Jiang, she applauded after each movement and led a standing ovation at the end.

During the intermission, Jiang went backstage to meet Ormandy and to thank him for his support in 1940, when he participated in a benefit concert to raise money for the medical services of the Communist Eighth Route Army. Ormandy felt comfortable enough to ask Jiang about the ban on the performance of Russian music. Jiang replied that the Central Philharmonic Orchestra often played Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. Ormandy pressed on, saying that he had wanted to play Tchaikovsky but was told it was not allowed. Jiang assured him that he was mistaken, ended the conversation, and returned to her seat.

Although the Chinese had agreed to the content of the program, apparently The Pines of Rome, which opened the second half, had been approved solely on the basis of its name. When the last movement, The Pines of the Appian Way," began, all was not well. According to Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai (Rhapsody in Red, 2004), Jiang Qing had apparently expected the music to be about pine trees, and only pine trees. When she heard the part that sounds like a military march drawing closer and growing louder she became increasingly agitated. This didn't sound like pines, she told Li Delun-it didn't even sound like a forest! What kind of music was this?!" Nicholas Platt wrote in his memoir that she chatted incessantly and wrote notes to colleagues throughout the Pines of Rome."

Program for the third concert in Beijing
The concert opened with Beethoven's Sixth, and the second half included Respighi's Pines of Rome (the titles of the four movements are listed in the program), Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, and the Yellow River Concerto. As an encore, pianist Yin Cheng-Chung performed his own set of variations on Home on the Range," and the orchestra performed an arrangement of the Chinese folk song San Pei." The dates in the top right corner show that this concert was repeated on 20 September in Shanghai.

The Americans were amused by the Home on the Range" variations. Yin apparently had prepared them at the request of Chinese officials because they understood Home on the Range" to be a sacred American song and a favorite of President Richard Nixon's.

Philadelphia Orchestra during third concert in Beijing
Hall of Chinese Nationalities, Beijing, 16 September 1973
The Chinese characters over the stage read Welcome to the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra from the United States on Its Performance in China."
Dignitaries applauding during the third concert in Beijing
Hall of Chinese Nationalities, Beijing, 16 September 1973
Left to right, beginning with the third person from the left: Mrs. Richard C. Bond (wife of the president of the Philadelphia Orchestra), Yao Wenyuan (Politburo member), C. Wanton Balis Jr. (chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association board), Wu De (chairman of the Beijing Revolutionary Committee and mayor of Beijing), Gretel Ormandy, Jiang Qing, David K. E. Bruce (head of the U.S. liaison office in Beijing), Ding Guoyu (member of the Central Committee), and Mrs. David Bruce. Conductor Li Delun is sitting behind Jiang Qing.
Harold C. Schonberg
U.S. Group Plays for Mao's Wife"
New York Times, 17 September 1973
Following the Concert

This was the best received of the Beijing concerts. The audience was enthusiastic in its appreciation, but despite a general feeling of good cheer, not everyone was happy. Jiang Qing remained in a bad humor over the intermission conversation with Ormandy and the objectionable martial character of the ending to The Pines of Rome. She initially refused to go back stage to meet the members of the orchestra, but after a long talk with one of her associates, she changed her mind.

At that point, the orchestra members were already on a bus returning to the hotel. Military vehicles chased the bus and, just as it reached the hotel, cut it off in the middle of the road. Without explanation to the musicians, the bus turned around and returned to the concert hall. Once the orchestra members had assembled backstage, Jiang Qing shook each member's hand and gave them some sweet-scented cassia flowers from her garden to be used as a flavoring in tea or in baking. She presented to Ormandy a four-volume set of 19th-century Chinese music scores from her personal collection. Harold C. Schonberg made much of the gift in his report in the New York Times, but the Chinese observing the presentation were less impressed by the scores than they were amused by how Ormandy examined them upside down until Jiang corrected him.

Following the reception, the orchestra and the Chinese dignitaries proceeded to the stage for a group photograph.

Group photograph following third concert in Beijing
Beijing, 16 September 1973
Standing behind the flowers are Eugene Ormandy, Jiang Qing, and Gretel Ormandy (left to right).
Jiang Qing speaking at the reception following the third concert in Beijing
Beijing, 16 September 1973
To the left of Jiang is WCAU-TV reporter Kati Marton (holding microphone). United States officials noted that Jiang Qing's choice of Western-style apparel for the concert was almost unprecedented. Standing behind Jiang is Yao Wenyuan, a member of the Politburo. Both Jiang and Yao were part of the Gang of Four.
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