Luting He began studying composition with Huang Zi in Shanghai in 1931. His elegant salon piano piece in the Chinese style, Mutong duandi (‘The Cowherd’s Flute’, 1934), earned him national fame. During the anti-Japanese and civil wars of the 1940s he was active as a conductor and composer in the Communist mass song movement. He taught composition in Shanghai and from 1949 to 1984 directed the Conservatory, with an interruption during the Cultural Revolution; he earned a reputation in China as a fervent promoter of Western classical music, seeing it as a means of modernizing Chinese music. A prominent Communist Party member, he was known for his numerous patriotic film scores and politically inspired songs and choral works, though he also produced operas and orchestral works. Much of his music consists of Western Romantic harmonizations of Chinese folk and folk-inspired melodies. His views brought him into serious conflict with anti-Western populists and provoked violent attacks on him and his family during the Cultural Revolution.