Chou Wen-Chung


And the Fallen Petals

Year 1955
Duration 10 minutes

And the Fallen Petals is a short poem for orchestra in three parts all based on the same thematic materials. The inscription is taken from a poem by Meng Hao-jan (689-740).

All through the night
And the fallen petals
Such noise of wind and rain
Who knows how many!

This mood is developed in the following sections:

Prologue: A voice is heard out of the stillness of the wilderness.
I can see no one gone before me,
I can see no one coming after me;
All alone, I am overwhelmed by the thought of the eternity of heaven and earth
And my tears fall.
(Chen Tzu-ang, 656-698)

Part 1: Against a quiet and mysterious landscape, budding blossoms dance the praise of life in the Spring wind.

Part 2: A storm breaks and the furious wind drives the dazed petals far and wide.

Part 3: Against a quiet and mysterious landscape, the fallen petals are being swept away and fresh blossoms on the branches dance in the Spring wind.

Epilogue: A voice is heard out of the stillness of the wilderness meditating the eternity of heaven and earth.

Thinking of all the young lost in violence and terror who, dying, looked back through a veil of blood at the incomprehensible landscape of their lives, I composed this work in memoriam.

In this work I have tried to convey, through sound, the emotional qualities of Chinese landscape painting and to achieve this end with the same economy of means. The characteristic successions of transparent intervals used in Chinese music are freely embroidered with opulent dissonances serving as the palette from which the composer paints in orchestral sonority, timbre, texture and dynamics. The changing mood and the emotional content of the work are thus projected by means of a tonal brushwork extending over the entire orchestral spectrum. In this as well as in my other works to date, I am influenced by the philosophy that governs every Chinese artist, whether he be a poet or painter; namely, affinity to nature in conception, allusiveness in expression, and terseness in realization.


  • 2 Flutes (doubling Piccolos)
  • 2 Oboes (2nd doubling English Horn)
  • 2 Clarinets in B-flat
  • 1 Bass Clarinet
  • 2 Bassoons
  • 4 Horns in F
  • 2 Trumpets in B-flat
  • 2 Tenor Trombones
  • 1 Bass Trombone
  • 2 Tuba
  • Timpani (alternating: Suspended Cymbal (high) and pair of Cymbals)
  • Celesta
  • Harp
  • Violins I
  • Violins II
  • Violas
  • Violoncellos
  • Double Basses


  • Triangle
  • Suspended Cymbal (low)
  • Gong
  • Tambourine (laid flat)
  • Tom-tom (medium size)
  • Tenor Drum (no snare)
  • Snare Drum
  • Field Drum
  • Bass Drum (deep, laid obliquely or flat)

By Chou Wen-chung

Site Credits

Spiralis Music Trust

Design — Concentric, Development — Igicom

Kimberly M. Wang, Eardog Productions, the Spiralis Music Trust and public domain.