A presidential citation was awarded posthumously on Monday to the “godfather of music” Lee Tai-hsiang (李泰祥) to recognize his contributions to the nation’s music industry.
Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) presented the citation to Lee’s family on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at a memorial service in Taipei.
The citation praised Lee for his crossover music and for being a “pioneer of Taiwan’s avant-garde music” scene.
“He was the last romantic genius of our time,” Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) founder and artistic director Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) said at the memorial service, which was attended by many prominent figures from the cultural, arts and music world.
Lee’s children and other musicians performed several of his songs at the service.
Lee, an Amis Aborigine, majored in violin at the National College of Arts in Taipei.
After graduating in 1964, he joined the Taipei Symphony Orchestra as first chair violinist and then studied avant-garde music at San Diego State University in California in 1973.
He was appointed conductor of the Taiwan Provincial Orchestra in 1974, before quitting in 1976 to concentrate on composing.
He became one of the guiding lights of Taiwan’s campus folk music movement of the 1970s, composing such favorites as Olive Tree (橄欖樹), Farewell (告別) and Smiling Face (歡顏).
The 72-year-old Lee passed away in his sleep on Jan. 2 at Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Xindian District (新店).
He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments for more than two decades.