Respected musician and composer of many popular Taiwanese songs and folk music Kuo Chih-yuan (郭芝苑) died on Friday, aged 92.
Having been honored by the government as a “National Treasure Musician” and referred to by the nation’s cultural and artistic communities as “the guiding light of modern Taiwanese folk music,” Kuo dedicated his life to composing songs, with a good many becoming classics.
Born in Yuanli Town (苑裡), -Miaoli County, in 1921, he received his primary education in Taiwan and in 1935, he went to Japan with his uncle to receive musical training in Japanese schools from junior high through university. After World War II, Kuo returned to Taiwan in 1946 to start his musical career.
Kuo wrote and released more than 200 popular songs, many of which are still loved by Taiwanese and sung to this day. Some of his best-known tunes were The Crucian Carp is Taking a Bride (鯽仔魚欲娶某), Go to Sleep, Little Baby (嬰仔睏), Red Baby Rose (紅蕎薇) and A Night Mooring by the Maple Bridge (楓橋夜泊).
He was also well-known for his versatility as a composer. His compositions included artistic songs, chamber music, piano concertos, opera songs, orchestral music and popular music. In addition, he wrote musical scores for Taiwanese movies and stage shows, as well as ballads and folk music.
According to his family and relatives, Kuo’s health had deteriorated recently and he was given a preliminary diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Due to his advanced age, doctors could not do a biopsy.
He received liquid nutritional supplements intravenously in hospital and was discharged on Wednesday.
On Friday at 11am, his family found him in failing health and rushed him to hospital. His breathing and heartbeat stopped before arrival and for 40 minutes, hospital medics tried in vain to resuscitate him, family members said.
Doctors said the likely cause of death was that the cancer spread to his liver, resulting in organ failure. He was pronounced dead at 12:25pm, with his family and relatives at his bedside.
Former cultural affairs minister Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀) said that over the course of Kuo’s lifetime, he experienced war and other great historic changes in Taiwan’s political and social environment.
“Despite it all, Kuo still harbored a sense of determination to keep producing his creative works and composing music. He had a very genuine and deep passion for Taiwan, the land and its people,” she said. “Kuo’s lifetime work laid the foundation for Taiwan’s musical legacy.”