The Moon Reflected in Erquan

The most famous of all the Chinese instruments is the erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument with a box resonator. And the most famous of all erhu pieces is undoubtedly ‘The Moon Reflected in Second Spring’, or erquan yingyue in Chinese.

‘The Moon Reflected in Second Spring’ was written by Hua Yanjun, better known as Blind A’bing, a destitute street performer whose seemly past contributed to the sorrow in his written music. Though mostly unappreciated, Blind A’bing was an exceptional performer, and because of his trade as a street musician, it is believed he probably knew more than 600 pieces on erhu and pipa.

After the New China was established in 1949, communist officials discovered Blind A’bing and, eager to document his talent, asked him to make a recording. The resulting six recordings included ‘The Moon Reflected in Second Spring’, but were sadly the first and only ever done, for A’bing died a few months later.

‘The Moon Reflected in Second Spring’ has become a classic piece of folk music beloved across China. Its melody is instantly recognizable, for the ringing, sorrowful erhu that is its centerpiece. Though the song takes an incredibly romantic name, its melodic lines more truly reflect the grief and sadness of its composer, a victim of war, illness and destitution.

Many recordings have subsequently been made of ‘The Moon Reflected in Second Spring’ and many of the great erhu masters have prided themselves in playing the piece, which is regarded as a Chinese national treasure. Many have been known to weep upon hearing this moving piece of music, including Chinese leaders of the past, and the Japanese conductor Ozawa Seiji once said that he should kneel down to listen to it.

‘The Moon Reflected in Second Spring’ is one of the greatest Chinese musical compositions of all time, and it is perhaps the single most moving piece of erhu music ever written.

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