Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, held a position of importance from the time of the Sui dynasty (581-617 C.E.), and is sited at the end of the Grand Canal, with linked waterways that provided communication between the provinces of China. It was the capital of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1276), visited by Marco Polo in the following Mongol Yuan dynasty. He compared Hangzhou to Venice, praised its traditional arts and crafts, and commented on its great importance in the spice trade and on the beauty of the West Lake with its bordering pavilions and temples. Historical monuments abound, with temples and pagodas, and buildings that recall ancient China.
The music chosen for this tour of Hangzhou is played on traditional Chinese instruments. Unusually there is a Bach Minuet, transcribed for the Chinese dulcimer, the yangqin, used to accompany a visit to a silk museum. Other instruments heard include the dizi, the Chinese bamboo transverse flute, and ensembles of wind and strings, known as 'silk and bamboo' from their silk strings and bamboo pipes. Traditional Chinese music, like Chinese painting, is generally associated with a scene or poem, as revealed in its evocative titles.