Veteran composer Weng Ching-hsi (翁清溪) died in August last year at the age 76, but the news was not made public until earlier this week.
Attorney Hsu Tse-yu (徐則鈺), who represented Weng in his copyright lawsuit against Leico Record Factory Co three years ago, confirmed Weng’s passing, saying the composer’s wife, Chen Li-hua (陳麗花), had informed him of the news in a telephone call in August.
Music Copyright Society of Chinese Taipei staff member Cheng Ting-ling (鄭婷玲), who is in charge of the copyrights on Weng’s songs, also confirmed his death.
Cheng said the organization had announced on its official Web site that Chen was entitled to inherit Weng’s music copyrights, so long as she presented relevant documentation to finalize the inheritance procedures.
Both Hsu and Cheng said they did not know the reasons why Weng’s family kept his death from the public.
News of Weng’s passing did not come to light until a documentary filmmaker contacted the family in March this year because he wanted to use the composer’s songs in his movie.
“Where there are ethnically Chinese people, there are sounds of Wang’s songs being sung. His works have left an indelible imprint in the memories of people of my generation. How come no one was aware of the passing of such an important musical figure?” the filmmaker said.
Since entering the music industry at age 16, Weng composed more than 1,000 songs under various pseudonyms, including Tang Ni (湯尼), Po Tu (波度) and Kuang Yang (光陽).
His most famous works included The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心) and The Story of a Small Town (小城故事多), both of which were sung by Teresa Teng (鄧麗君).
Weng won the award for Best Original Film Song at the 18th Golden Horse Awards in 1981 for his work on the Taiwanese movie My Native Land (原鄉人), and was honored with the lifetime achievement award at the 10th Golden Melody Awards in 1999.
He also garnered the best music award for the Taiwanese film Lament of the Sand River (沙河悲歌) at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival in 2000.
Taiwanese director Lee Hsing (李行), whose work Posterity and Perplexity (碧雲天) brought Weng into the movie industry, said it was regrettable that Weng’s family did not notify him of Weng’s death.
Lee said he had invited Weng to compose music for his stage play Summer Snow (夏雪) in 2011, but he later resigned due to physical ailments.
“I had tried to visit Weng at his home in June last year after learning that he had some heart problems, but Chen refused to let me in, saying that Weng’s ‘sickly appearance’ was unfit for a visit,” Lee said.
Lee said he had made several telephone calls to Weng’s landline afterward, but they always went unanswered.
However, there is speculation the family decided to keep Weng’s death a secret because of the substantial royalties he received for his works each year and a dispute over how to distribute them.