XU Jian was born in 1923 in Tianjin, Hebei Province. His ancestral home was in County Ci, Hebei Province. In 1942, he studied in the National Conservatory of Qing Mu Guan, Zhongqing. After his graduation, he became a music teacher in Zhongqing. In 1954, he was admitted to the Music Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Arts and worked there until his retirement. After his joining the music research institute, he learned the qin and music theories under GUAN Ping-hu and YANG Yin-liu respectively. In 1956, he became the vice chairman of the Beijing Qin Society. In the same year, he and WANG Di joined ZHA Fu-xi to travel around China to have the qin players’ sound recording. In 1962 and 1983, he and WANG Di together published the Book of Qin Music respectively. In 1982, he published his own article the History of Qin.