Nie Er (Kunming 14 February 1912 – Fujisawa, Japan 17 July 1935), born Nie Shouxin, courtesy name Ziyi (子義 or 子藝), was a Chinese composer best known for "March of the Volunteers", the national anthem of China. In numerous Shanghai magazines, he went by the English name George Njal, after a character in Njal's Saga.
Nie Er's ancestors were from Yuxi, Yunnan, in southwest China. He was born in Kunming, Yunnan. From an early age Nie Er displayed an interest in music. From 1918 he studied at the Kunming Normal School's Affiliated Primary School. In his spare time, he learnt to play traditional instruments such as the dizi, erhu, sanxian, and yueqin, and became the conductor of the school's Children's Orchestra. In 1922 he entered the Private Qiushi Primary School (Senior Section), and in 1925 entered Yunnan Provincial Number One Combined Middle School.
In 1927 Nie Er graduated from Yunnan Provincial Number One Combined Middle School, and entered Yunnan Provincial Number One Normal School. At school, he participated in the book club, and organised the Nine-Nine Music Society, which performed within the school and outside. During this time, he learnt to play the violin and piano.
In June 1931, Nie Er entered the Mingyue Musical Drama Society as a violinist. In July 1932 he published A Short Treatise on Chinese Song and Dance, in which he criticised the Drama Society's president, Li Jinhui, as a result of which he was forced to leave the society. Prior to joining the Lianhua Film Studio on November 1932, he took part in shaping the Bright Moonlight Song and Dance Troupe. He later joined the musical group of the Friends of the Soviet Union Society. He also organized the Chinese Contemporary Music Research Group, which participated in the Leftist Dramatist's Union. In 1933, Nie Er joined the Communist Party of China.
In April 1934, Nie Er joined Pathé Records and managed the musical section. In the same year he founded the Pathé National Orchestra. This was a prolific year for Nie Er in terms of musical output. In January 1935 Nie Er became the director of the musical department of Lianhua Number Two Studio.
In April 1935, Nie Er went to Japan to meet his elder brother in Tokyo. There, he composed the "March of the Volunteers", which would later become the national anthem of China.