The Speech of the NTU Honorary Doctorate, Dr. Ma Shui-Lung for the 84th NTU Anniversary
Dear President Lee, guests and NTU students,
It is out of my surprise and beyond my description that I can receive this great honor from National Taiwan University, especially when it is the 84th NTU anniversary today. The title of NTU Honorary Doctorate truly means a lot to me because this is the first time ever that National Taiwan University grants this honorary doctorate to a recipient from the professional field of music. Hereby, I would love to appreciate how National Taiwan University cares and focuses on the promotion of culture and fine arts.
Over the past forty to fifty years in my career life, I have been working on the music composition and the promotion of arts in education. I have been devoting to this field with my whole life. As for me, music composition is just like my very own life, tracing and recording my life experiences with my every piece of works. As well as music composition, art education is what I have been concerned a lot for all time. Education serves as the origins and the resources of cultures, so that is to say, we can never ignore art education as long as we expect a higher quality life of culture
Among all kinds of creative activities in the human culture, imagination plays a really important role, especially when it comes to the professional fields of sciences, arts and philosophy. However, it is beyond our imagination how scientists, artists and philosophers have to go through their long way journey from composing to finishing their pieces of works, regarding their creative activities.
For me, every piece of my music composition presents an individual sense and feeling, which is different from one another. Although I have already composed quite a lot of various genres in my music, what has been really interested me is a new approach with a whole new interpretation to work on my creation and the innermost meanings in it. I have been often asked this question, “What’s your favorite piece of works that made you satisfied?” My answer is always like this, ”It is probably that one I haven’t composed yet.” It is simply because of the quest for the unknown and the expectations that made me to challenge my impulse with more interests and courage again and again. The endless quest among scientists, artists and philosophers show us how they have been searching the innermost realm of art, a wonderland, where it is home to their souls.
We human beings are creatures of both the sense and the sensibility. The prosperity of a nation relies a lot on the technological development as well as the spiritual elevation of art and culture, and this goes without saying that we can never ignore the importance of art education. I was once impressed by an incident in an event held by Ministry of Education ten years ago: I was in charge of hosting a meeting for the promotion for the art teachers and the tests on art-related subjects in Taiwan. There were scholars and experts in Taiwan and also art education officers from Germany and France attending this meeting. An officer from the Ministry of Culture in France mentioned that the French government put much emphasis on the annual budget on the art education and culture as well as the subject tests and the promotion. That French officer said, “although there has been the global recession over the past years, the budget on culture and the expansion of art education has never been cut down simply because of the economic recession in France.” What the officer said shows that the French are very aware of the fact that the cultivation from art education and culture requires the long-term effort, and we can not expect the results to be achieved in a short time. Also, the French officer pointed out that it would be so wrong if we leave what we have never done to our next generation and anticipate that they will complete the task. This also would definitely make us regret for that mistake. Last but not the least, the officer mentioned that, “The French are not so naïve or stupid anyway. All the investment on the long-term art education and culture in France would be paid back by having developed another great artist like Picasso in the next fifty years. If so, then all the money and efforts we have spent can absolutely be worth it!” There was a long silence after this. All the attendants to the meeting were too stunned to speak by hearing this! This experience made me reflect what have happened in Taiwan: people in Taiwan usually expect to have a certain result or achievement within only one to two years, if any authority or organization have put fund and budget on the research or promotion of art education. When it comes to the understanding of culture and education, obviously there has been a huge gap between France in Taiwan. And this is really something we should think about. Leonard Bernstein, the American composer, conductor and music lecturer, has said, ” when there is the coexistence of culture and art, there is hope for human beings.” Truly it is because culture and art are the souls rooted deeply in our lives for all mankind. I would love to encourage people to put our efforts on developing art education. Hereby I anticipate a greater future with a better taste in the harmony in our country.
Thank you all!