Give Away - Butterfly Lover Concerto Music Sheets

May 8, 2007 at 03:39 AM · Here I am at it again. Last year I gave away my only 2 copies of the Butterfly Lovers Concerto music sheet for violin and piano (without even asking for postal cost). A copy went to San Francisco as a birthday present to a lady who heard the music for the first time and fell in love with it. The other copy went to a Sydney mother who wanted her daughter to appreciate this particular Chinese music. Her mother passed away the year before and the concerto was one of her favourites.

I took the opportunity to ask a friend to get me 5 copies during his trip to China last month. So now I have 4 copies to give away. Anyone wants a copy send me an email with postal address.

Why am I doing this? I know this music sheet is impossible to get outside of China. The music has touched so many people and I'd like to do my small part to help spread the music, so other people can enjoy learning and playing the music.

note: those doing AMEB Grade 8, this piece is included in List D.

Replies (35)

May 8, 2007 at 04:04 AM · I have a copy of that and played it; fun piece. Can't you just scan it and distribute unlimited copies?

May 8, 2007 at 03:25 PM · There's a copyright issue.

Bless your heart, William! I've got the sheet and played the slow movements many times. Not an esay piece to do it right, as the elements of Yue Opera that this piece has clearly incorporated need to be balanced with this western instrument, and IMHO, making it to soud like an erhu is the last thing one should do but could be tempting to some of us.

May 8, 2007 at 04:22 PM · Thanks, William, not only for your generosity but for doing it in a fair and legal manner.

May 8, 2007 at 04:51 PM · Yes, because the chinese would never stoop to piracy.

May 8, 2007 at 08:09 PM · I'm not sure about the availability of the sheet music...Morey's Music in Lakewood, CA seems to carry both the piano/violin part as well as a score for the "The Butterly Lovers Concerto" in stock (that's where I've sent people locally to purchase it, but it's definitely an import).

May 8, 2007 at 08:42 PM · with all the piracy going on in china, to make some copies of the butterfly may help even out the trade inbalance.

May 8, 2007 at 09:39 PM · Marty and Al, I don’t think you guys are suggesting these composers’ rights should be sacrificed because someone else in their own country have committed piracy?

May 8, 2007 at 09:52 PM · My morals on this subject are simple:

If the composer is dead then scan and copy to your heart's content.

Beethoven won't be missing money when people download his sheet music instead of buying it.

May 8, 2007 at 11:39 PM · Thanks for your kind responses.

Trust me, it will cost me much more to photocopy it in Australia than to purchase the original copy in China. Plus, I'm a big fan of protecting music copyright. Musicians are already suffering with people "stealing" their income. I don't want to take part in that.

Anyways, no request so far. So there's still 4 copies available!

May 8, 2007 at 11:52 PM · I sent you a request! :)

May 9, 2007 at 12:20 AM · I'd be surprised if a Chinese publisher paid anybody to use it, really.

May 9, 2007 at 12:04 AM · yixi, i was kidding on that one.

point is, you said there is an issue, but you did not elaborate.

i understand copying for personal use vs for commercial gain is treated differently. not sure copying the score and distributing it to friends can still be considered for personal use.

also, the chinese co that printed that copy.... does it have the copyright in china, or internationally?

it will be funny if that co actually hijacked the right to print and did it anyway. of course, that is my conjecture.

May 9, 2007 at 12:16 AM · I sent a request but I'm not sure if it went through...hmm...

May 9, 2007 at 12:33 AM · I sent a request as well... =\ Maybe I'll try again.

May 9, 2007 at 12:39 AM · how do you know if a request went through?

May 9, 2007 at 12:47 AM · When I said I wasn't sure if it went through, I was just curious because I sent a request before it was posted that there were still 4 copies available, meaning that my request hasn't been received or didn't go through. I hope I'm not being too confusing!

May 9, 2007 at 02:40 AM · I have yet to receive the requests in my email. Given that the requests were sent through, it may take some time before the messages actually get sent to my email.

Once I've received the first 4 requests, I'll respond to your email and post the name of the first 4 requests here.

Those that want the music sheet, please only request if you are genuinely going to use it. I would hate to think that it is going to be covered in dust instead of giving it to someone who will really appreciate the music.


May 9, 2007 at 04:31 AM · Speaking of messages don’t go through, I have the same problem – no one gets my email through nor I could receive any. So if any of you have tried to send me a private message, it’s not that I’m rude. I just never get them. I don’t know what to do about this.

Al, I know you guys kid a lot here and I wish I could always tell when without getting other cues. It’s actually the hardest thing for a non-native speaker to figure out the nuance of a joke.

I didn’t elaborate on the copyright issue, or any legal issues for that matter, because I don’t want to give people any wrong impression that I’m giving legal advice -- you just can't be too careful about these sort of thing. Whether copying the score and distributing it to friends constitutes reasonable use? Well, it depends and the answer requires some case law esearch to be sure the latest interpretation on reasonable use. That said, it is common knowledge that intellectual property law (copyright, patent law, trademark, etc) have been big in China for many years, China is a signatory of the Berne Convention, an international agreement about copyright. China is also a signatory of the WTO and whole bunch of other international intellectual property Treaties and Conventions. This means that if a person has gained the copyright in China (and you don't need to register; you get copyrigh upon completion/publication of the work), his copyright will be protected among the signatory countries, which of course include US. You can get more information at the wiki if you want to know more about IP situation in China:

May 9, 2007 at 04:33 AM · oops the hyperlink didn't work last time. Here:

May 9, 2007 at 12:38 PM · I've had the same problem with vcom mail-- people don't get my messages and I don't get messages sent me.

May 10, 2007 at 12:06 AM · I have yet to receive any requests in my email. To make it easier, my email is:

Send your request to my email directly instead of through Please provide your name and postal address. A story of how you come accross the concerto, why it is meaningful to you etc. would be nice (but not necessary).

The first 4 requests that get to my email will get the music sheet. Hurry!


May 10, 2007 at 06:02 AM · All 4 requests have been received.

1) Patricia Baser, GA, USA

2) Emily Wing, WA, USA?

3) Kelli Chatelain,UT, USA

4) Lorenzo Raval, Philippines

I'll head down to the post office tomorrow and get them posted (via normal mail). Emily, I assume you are from United States as well?

The give-away music sheet is now closed. Sorry, I'm not giving away my own copy this time :-p

The next time I know someone heading to China for holidays, I'll try to get more copies. It won't be any time soon though. Keep an eye on discussion board.

Cheers! Enjoy the music!

June 8, 2014 at 01:55 AM · I read in your blog that William Yap is giving away Butterfly Lovers' Concerto - is it still available? Thanks,

June 8, 2014 at 02:24 AM · I'd be interested, too. I'd more than reimburse for postage and effort. BTW, I'd also be interested in a score and parts, if anyone has them. Thanks.

June 8, 2014 at 05:06 AM · Where did you buy it in China and how much did it cost ? I am going there in October/November : Hangzhou, Yichang, Nanjing and Shanghai. I might keep an eye out for it. I would also like to pick up some traditional Chinese music arranged for the violin (not the Chinese violin).

June 8, 2014 at 09:39 AM · My local music shop, Morey's Music seems to have this in stock fairly regularly. I purchased both a violin/piano book as well as a copy of the full score there.

June 9, 2014 at 04:21 AM · About your messages not going through, make sure your account is updated with your current email address.

"If the composer is dead then scan and copy to your heart's content." Problem is that the composer (or arranger/editor) has an estate with heirs.

June 11, 2014 at 11:27 PM · Can't resist this one, which you've probably all thought of and in all decency suppressed: Is this a set of variations on Pinkerton's aria?

June 12, 2014 at 02:47 AM · Wrong country!

June 12, 2014 at 06:48 PM · Johnson's online shop has this available, so no need to go through contortions to get it.

June 12, 2014 at 07:15 PM · Why are we digging up such old posts again?

Perhaps in '07 it was harder to get a hold of than it is today...( 2014 - just for archival

June 13, 2014 at 07:39 PM · Knowing what to search for is half the battle.

June 14, 2014 at 12:28 AM · >>BTW, I'd also be interested in a score and parts, if anyone has them. Thanks. Raphael Klayman

He/Chen - Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto Research

For those who have had trouble finding the sheet music to this work, research has come up with these references updated as of 2014.

See this Naxos link for the current info and contact

Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto by He Zhanhao (a.k.a. Ho Zhanhao) and Chen Gang (a.k.a. Chen Kung [Kang]). [1959] dur 27'

(Chinese Title= Liang Zhu Xiao Ti Qin Xie Zou Qu) [ also listed as Liang Shan-Bo and Zhu Ying-Tai]

The instrumentation is: 2-2-2-2 - 4-2-3-0 - timp, 3 perc(Gu Ban,Cym,Tam-tam), hp, piano, strings, solo Violin (The percussion includes a part for Gu Ban; two Chinese wooden clappers which can be substituted by playing on woodblocks)


From: Klaus Heymann:

HNH International Ltd. is the publisher for the 50% of the Butterfly Lovers that belong to Chen Gang. We published a new score and parts and can sell the score and rent the parts … we will pay the other publisher, Universal Music Publishing, the 50% belonging to He ZhanHao.

[CEO Naxos Records]

HNH International Ltd

Level 11, Cyberport 1,

100 Cyberport Road,

Hong Kong

Tel.: 852 2760 7818

Fax: 852 2760 1962


From Johnson Strings a USA dealer

11 John Street - Newton Centre, MA 02459, 617-964-0954, 800-359-9351

This dealer, has in stock the violin/piano edition and the full score.

Butterfly Lovers Concerto; Chen/He [Violin/Piano] (the publication notes are in Chinese) $22.00 The violin part and the piano part are both computer engraved.

“The Butterfly Lovers Concerto, composed in 1959 and said to be the most recorded music in China, is based on melodies derived from an operatic tale of star-crossed lovers. Printed in China, this lovely concerto is scored for violin with accompaniment transcribed for piano.”

Butterfly Lovers Concerto; Chen/He; SCORE [Study size Orchestra Score] $40.00

The score is printed. The orchestra parts are on rental directly from Hong Kong, HNH International Ltd.

------------------------------- wrote:

Hi there,

Sorry my English is very bad but I'll try my best. I come from Germany and

I lived in China for one year (so I can read/write/speak Chinese); My

essay for the admission to the final exams is about the violin concerto

and about its origins in yue-opera. The premiere of the violin concerto was 27/5/1959 (violin and orchestra) and 4/5/1959 (violin/piano performed by the composers, students at that time). Before the cooperation between He and Chen there existed already some melodies in a Liang-Zhu string quartett, called "Little Liang-Zhu", written by He Zhan-Hao and some of its classmates.

There are several revisions of the composers who are still fighting about

the copyrights. Chen (a pianist) revised it first and then made the

"official" violin-piano version. There are also Liang-Zhu versions for

some traditional Chinese instruments (Erhu, Pipa) and also for the piano.

You can download several recordings at (Chinese!)


Some references give 1958 other 1959 for the premiere, but 1959 is the correct date per Sheila Melvin, an expert on Chinese music. See page 210-211, 324 of

Rhapsody in Red - How Western Classical Music Became Chinese

By Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai -

Algora Publishing NY 2004

ISBN: 0-87586-179-2 (softcover)


Available is a Full score published in China with a copyright date of 1979, a computer printed Large size full score printed in the US and a Violin/piano reduction printed in China with only the program notes in English.

The Full score from China has the following English on the title page; Liang Shan-Bo and Zhu Ying-Tai; violin concerto with orchestra (score); Ho Zhan Hao, Chen Kang.

I have proofed these 3 publications against one another and find only minor differences in the engravings.

See HHH for the different versions for solo instruments and orchestra.

The Naxos rental parts have minor differences when compared to the piano edition and the printed full score.

June 16, 2014 at 08:11 PM · Don't understand your comment Raphael - What's so impossible about a Chinaperson writing a set of variations on a theme from an Italian's anti-American opera set in Japan?

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