While the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony received greater attention for its opulence and spectacle, the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Winter Olympics was just as remarkable and unique.
On Friday, an opening ceremony was held, signalling to the world that China intends to fulfil its pledge to “provide a magnificent, amazing, and excellent Beijing 2022 Winter Games in a green, inclusive, open, and clean manner.”
The music played in the background throughout the parade of athletes is something that people all across the world, and especially music enthusiasts, will remember for years to come.
Yes, I am one of those classical music enthusiasts that was pleasantly pleased and quite enjoyed this selection.
Beijing 2022’s Opening Ceremony
Beijing 2022’s opening ceremony was the best I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to the opening ceremonies of Athens 2004, Torino 2006, and Beijing 2008 and have seen every single Olympic Games since Los Angeles 1984.
At the moment when Team Greece — always the first to do so on such occasions — approached the Bird’s Nest central arena where the big ceremony was being conducted, I heard the famous melody of Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
It was then revealed that 19 pieces of world-famous music by Beethoven, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Vivaldi will be played for crowds and TV viewers. The Vienna New Year’s Concert couldn’t compare to this, and music fans wouldn’t have expected this much.
As a musician, I can attest that the musical selections were carefully curated to fit the solemnity of the event.
We listened to Johann Strauss’s “Voice of Spring” and Antonio Vivaldi’s “La Primavera (Spring)” on February 4 since that day marks the “Beginning of Spring,” the first of the 24 Solar Terms in the traditional Chinese calendar.
The two pieces of music are just what people prefer to listen to when saying farewell to a frigid winter since they are passionate, joyful, and tinted with the warmth of spring.
It was wonderful that the Spring concerto from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons was selected rather than the Winter concerto. This is a brilliant move, despite the fact that the audience would have been just as content hearing from Winter.
However, French composer Emil Waldteufel’s composition Les Patineurs proved a perfect fit for the event. The Skaters’ Waltz is the English name for this piece of music, and it conjures up images of graceful skaters gliding across the ice while snowflakes dance above them.
To the delight of music fans, Johannes Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 5 was playing as Team Hungary made its way to the centre of the arena.
Even though the Turkish March (this time by Beethoven) was played long after Team Turkey had entered, it only added to the fun of the episode, so I’d like to think it was just a coincidence.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was seated in the front row of the VIP section to observe the opening ceremony, no doubt enjoyed hearing The Nutcracker Suite and Swan Lake, both of which were composed by the illustrious Russian musician Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Antonin Dvorak Like Music
Hearing the fourth movement of From the New World by Antonin Dvorak was like music to my ears. Standing in front of the TV for the live broadcast, I had expected this to happen.
As the opening ceremony’s classical music repertoire was cycled through, Chinese spectators could easily predict which piece would coincide with Team China’s parade, as they were the last team to make their public entrance.
On the other hand, a Chinese song was played as the Chinese delegation marched in, led by a formation of women athletes wearing bright crimson (nicknamed China Red).
All the Chinese people there and watching on TV at home must have felt tremendously uplifted by that.
Ode to the Motherland is almost as well-known in China as the March of the Volunteers, the country’s official national song. Those in the Bird’s Nest sprang up and cheered, and anyone watching on TV was likely to join in.
Of Course the Chinese have Every Right to be Pleased With their Nation.
The People’s Republic of China, referred to as “motherland” by its 1.4 billion citizens, marked its 70th anniversary of creation in 2019. The Communist Party of China celebrated its centennial in 2021 with much fanfare. Many people have worked hard over the past two years to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the song goes, “We sing in favour of our dear homeland, as it marches toward prosperity and power from today on,” and they know that more and greater accomplishments will be made under the leadership of the CPC.
The opening ceremony of Beijing 2022 will undoubtedly pique the attention of a large number of people in classical music, just as the country’s goal of getting 300 million people involved in snow and ice sports in preparation for hosting the 24th Olympic Winter Games has done.
That would be beneficial because it would unite their two passions, music and sports.