Tan Dun's creative output ranges from opera, chamber and symphonic compositions to multimedia and visual music projects, which have been performed by premier institutions around the world. His operas include Marco Polo (1995), which won him the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for music composition, and Tea (2002), an opera for ceramic, stone and paper instruments with orchestra. Other key works include Water Passion after St. Matthew for the Internationale Bachakadamie in Stuttgart, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Bach's death; Water Concerto commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; Paper Concerto, premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall; and The Map: Concerto for Cello, Video and Orchestra, premiered by Boston Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma with the composer conducting. Tan Dun's original score for Ang Lee's film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) won both a Grammy and an Oscar. His current commissions include a new work for pianist Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic to premiere in 2008.
Born in Hunan, China, and now based in New York, Tan Dun worked as a rice-planter and performer of Peking opera during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and '70s. He later studied at Beijing's Central Conservatory, where he encountered Western classical music for the first time, including much 20th-century repertory previously suppressed in China. Tan Dun soon became a leading composer of contemporary music in China and moved to New York in 1986 to study on a scholarship at Columbia University, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993.