March of the Volunteers义勇军进行曲


Chinese Name:《义勇军进行曲》

English Name: March of the Volunteers

Lyrics: Tian Han 田汉

Music: Nie Er 聂耳

“March of the Volunteers” is a song composed by Tian Han and Nie Er. It is the theme song of the film “Children of Troubled Times”. It is known as the clarion call for the liberation of the Chinese nation. Since its birth in 1935 at the juncture of the national crisis, it has played a great role in stimulating the patriotic spirit of the Chinese people and later became the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China. 

March of the Volunteers义勇军进行曲
March of the volunteers
Listen the “March of the Volunteers” Online

Background of March of the Volunteers

“March of the volunteers” was originally the theme song of the film ” Children of Troubled Times of the wind and cloud” released in 1935. This film was a successful film made by the Communist Party of China as an underground party after many difficulties. Its original intention was to influence the people’s thoughts through the film and call on everyone to unite and resist Japan and save the country at the time of the survival of the nation.

However, the ruling party at that time was the Kuomintang, and it was obviously not in its fundamental interests to publicize the ideas of Anti Japanese and communism. As a result, all underground party members who publicized Anti Japanese and Republican ideas were encircled, suppressed and even maimed by the Kuomintang.

March of the Volunteers义勇军进行曲
Children of Troubled Times

The screenwriter of the film “Children of Troubled Times” was originally a communist Tian Han. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Kuomintang in the late night of February 19, 1935. Fortunately, before Tian Han was imprisoned, the script was basically completed, and the lyrics of the Volunteer March also completed the first paragraph. In this case, the film company entrusted Xia Yan to continue to complete the film-related matters secretly.

The march of the volunteer’s tune was composed by Nie Er. Nie Er, who has the titles of “people’s musician” and “revolutionary musician”, is not

He is not a music major, but he is very diligent and loves music. He has pursued progress and revolution since childhood. Unfortunately, his life is too short, only 23 years.

Tian Han and Nie Er have cooperated many times before. In Nie Er’s lifetime, more than a quarter of his works are composed by Tian Han. They have not only common artistic pursuit, but also common social aspirations and political ideals.

March of the Volunteers义勇军进行曲

Xu Xingzhi, the director of the movie, recalled in the memory of Nie Er that Nie Er once said: “to create the march of the volunteers” , I almost forgot to eat and sleep. Day and night, I beat time on the table, sat in front of the piano, walked around the floor, and sang loudly. The landlord’s old woman refused. She thought I was crazy and ran upstairs to scold me. Finally, I had to apologize to her. ” Nie Er was totally immersed in the passion of creating a song similar to Marseille for the Chinese volunteers.

March of the Volunteers义勇军进行曲

In the process of filming the movie, because the Kuomintang often intervened in and out of the work, and the director Xu Xingzhi was also a layman in the film industry at that time, and the photographer was not professional enough, so the film was not highly refined, and people did not have a high evaluation of the film itself. However, Xu Xingzhi spoke highly of the influence of the march of the volunteers. In an interview with Japanese media, he once said: “if there is anything better than other films in Fengyun children, it is the march of the volunteers. This song sounded the horn of the charge of the Anti-Japanese war. Patriots sang this song to fight the Japanese army and go to the execution ground generously. Therefore, new China set this song as the national anthem.”

Why choose March of the Volunteers to be the national anthem

Because this is an anti-Japanese war work with a broad mass base and acceptance. It gives spiritual encouragement to all the people who do not want to be subjugated slaves at the time of national crisis. In addition, in addition to the pure spiritual power embodied in the song, the political attribute of the Volunteer March is also in line with the political nature of new China established under the leadership of the Communist Party. This song is the spiritual product of the Communist Party’s organization and leadership of the people’s adherence to the war of resistance against Japan.

Before the march of the volunteers was set as the national anthem, there was an episode. On September 25, 1949, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai listened to the opinions of the preparatory group on the national flag, national emblem, and National Anthem in Fengzeyuan, Zhongnanhai. When discussing the national anthem, it was agreed by all parties to take the Volunteer March, which has long been circulated among the masses, as the representative national anthem, but some people thought that the lyrics needed to be modified. They feel that this song played a historical role in the Anti-Japanese War and has historical significance, but now the situation has changed and the lyrics need to be modified.

One member said that the music was good, but “the Chinese nation is in the most dangerous time” was inappropriate, so it’s best to revise it. Premier Zhou Enlai disagreed with this proposal. He said, “only in this way can we stir up feelings. After the revision, there will be no such feelings when singing.” finally, Chairman Mao decided to keep the original song, so as to have the effect of being vigilant in times of peace.

On October 1, 1949, at the founding ceremony, Chairman Mao solemnly declared in a loud voice: “the Central People’s Government of the people’s Republic of China has been established!” with the five-star red flag rising slowly on Tiananmen Square, the magnificent March of the volunteers resounded through the magnificent Tiananmen Square, all over China and all over the world as the National Anthem of the people’s Republic of China for the first time.

Taking the march of the volunteers as the National Anthem of the people’s Republic of China not only makes people feel magnificent momentum and spiritual shock, but also moves people’s hearts. For example, from the perspective of young Nie Er’s emotion, the march of the volunteers has fixed the enthusiasm of a 23-year-old composer under a specific historical background, Full of strength and unyielding spirit, which also just represents the spirit of the Communist Party of China and new China. Therefore, the march of the volunteers is fresh and vibrant music.

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