Cambridge Scholar Publishing has released the book François Ravary SJ and a Sino-European Musical Culture of Nineteenth-Century Shanghai written by historical musicologist and composer David Francis Urrows. The book tells the story of François Ravary, a French Jesuit missionary, musician, and organ builder.
François Ravary (1823–1891) was a significant figure in the exchange of music between China and Europe in the modern era. For example, he was praised for establishing China's first brass band and the first school orchestra. Through years of research, Dr. Urrows discovered diverse aspects of Ravary's life, showcasing his life and his contributions to modern Chinese music through this book.
Ravary arrived in China in 1856 and joined the Jesuit mission in Jiangnan. He spent the rest of his life in China and was remembered for his achievement in creating the "Bamboo Organ of Tungkadoo" in 1857.
For St. Francis Xavier Church in Tong-Ka-Dou (French), Ravary made the first and most famous organ in 1857, called "The Bamboo Organ of Tungkadoo" in English.
After completing the Tungkadoo organ, Ravary focused on teaching, missionary work, and administration, leaving the workshop to individuals like Leopaoldus Deleuze. They continued to produce bamboo organs and harmonicas for churches in Shanghai, leading to the establishment of the T'ou-Sè-Wè Orphanage Harmonica Workshop, which lasted into the 20th century.
Urrows' in-depth analysis of François Ravary provides a valuable and detailed supplement to the study of Jesuit missionaries in the Jiangnan region during the late 19th century. Ravary's contributions to Chinese music history went beyond the bamboo organ. Having achieved several "firsts" in Chinese music history as a Jesuit missionary and musician, Ravary was also one of the early advocates for the localization of the Chinese Catholic Church.
- Translated by Abigail Wu