Lang Lang: Young and Ingenious Pianist
"I'm touched by Lang Lang's music. There's something special about it. It has a quality unique only to Chinese artists, and few at that…Lang is very amazing; his ability is beyond belief. Though he seldom takes part in competitions, he doesn't need to any more… such genius appears only once in a lifetime in China."
The above are the words of Fu Cong 傅聪, a piano master in China. The famous Chinese conductor Tan Dun 谭盾 also said that he was sure that Lang was one of the contemporary outstanding pianists. Lang was also picked as one of 20 youth who would change the world by the American magazine Teen People.
Such comments were made after Lang showed his piano talents to the world. In July 2002 when the Schleswig-Holstein Festival was held, he won the inaugural Leonard Bernstein Award, which was established for professional artists. This proves that both domestic and overseas musical circles recognize Lang's gift and achievements in piano.
Lang's musical life and enlightenment started at an early age. He began learning music when he was three, and only a year later, received instruction from Zhu Yafen, a professor in the Shenyang Conservatory of Music. Later he was admitted by the Central Conservatory of Music and taught by Professor Zhao Pingguo. Later still, Ying Chengzong, a famous pianist in China, discovered Lang's intelligence in piano and offered to teach him for free.
In 1996, 14-year-old Lang was admitted into the Curtis Institute of Music in the United States and was taught by Gary Graffman, a well-known master pianist and the head of the college. In such a way, a series of doors leading to the palace of music opened to Lang one after another.
There is a legend to how Lang's professional performance began. In August 1999 when the Ravinia Festival was held, Lang was chosen to fill in for the famous musician Andre Watts, who was unable at that time to play the piano onstage. Lang conquered the audience and his performance made a dramatic splash. Since then, Lang has become more and more popular in the musical world, and his concerts have ranked among the top of European and American box offices.
Even US President George W. Bush and his father once listened to him. According to Phoenix Satellite Television, before Lang started his performance, President Bush said emotionally that his performance was enchanting. The president added that the Chinese Culture Festival had made a positive contribution to Sino-American cultural exchanges.
Lang's achievements in art are of ice-breaking historical significance to both international and Chinese piano circles. To the former, he has proved that Chinese musicians can also enter the mainstream of classical music after receiving correct, complete, and systematic training in music. And for the latter, he represents another world-class Chinese classic musician after Chinese violoncellist Wang Jian.
It's accepted by many that classical music is too abstract to meet the taste of modern people. However, Lang doesn't agree. He insists that classical music, having been tested by time, has a long-lasting life and unique charm. He thinks it can enlighten people's minds with its musical notes, and can even influence those unschooled in music.
Classical music works, especially concertos, are difficult to interpret. So once a musician can grasp its technique, he or she can show all kinds of human emotions by music, and thus can more easily communicate with the audience. Lang is such a musician. And as the piano is one of the most popular elegant instruments in the world, Lang uses it to interpret classical music with his passion and talents and to further its development to spread classical music.
Based on the above ambitions, Lang has put himself in music with heart and soul. Every time on the stage, he is so fully immersed in playing wonderful music with vivid expression that he feels right at home even under the spotlight.
Lang also seeks the essence of music from world outside of music. He is always glad to exchange his opinions with others on art and music. Sometimes he goes to the cinema with his friends, as talking about films with them brings him inspiration. Then he will digest such inspiration and put it into his performance. In his spare time, he prefers to read to improve his appreciation in music.
Pursuing music and being nurtured by music, Lang is very poetic. At the same time, he is also very modern, having an optimistic streak and liking fashion, sports, and so on. He himself is the perfect combination of classicism and modernism. He is happy to get close to the audience's heart in an affectionate style rather than stay at an aloof distance. Hence, whether in East or West, Lang has a lot of fans who surround him wherever he goes.
He is so popular that he was appointed as UNICEF's (United Nations Children's Fund's) Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, becoming the third Chinese receiving such honor after Cheng Long and Li Ming. He has also been entitled as a World Peace Ambassador. As well, he was appointed as Mr. Deutsche Grammophon of 2004 in Germany, and was also listed as one of the 33 most outstanding and wisest figures of 2005 by the world famous magazine Esquire.
Yet ever with the array of accolades and praise, Lang has never forgotten his motherland. He passed up the chance to get American nationality, and what's more, has engaged himself in promoting and spreading Chinese culture. In all his concerts, the Chinese piano music pieces The Yellow River and My Motherland are among his repertoire.
Yet, though Lang is obsessed by classical music, he doesn't shun the commercialism of his music. In fact, his commercialized rout in music is quite mature and normal. Each year, he takes part in nearly 200 concerts, with each being a box office success.
He once took part in a music show held by NBC (National Broadcasting Company) in Los Angles. The show was a purely Hollywood-style one, replete with pop music -- till Lang appeared. But while open to commercial aspects in music, Lang is no money grabber. After that, many film companies in Hollywood wanted to cooperate with him. However, Lang rejected them, as he rejects without hesitation any music show aiming solely at commercial interests, lest classical music be desecrated.
Lang Lang, no more than 24, is a soon-to-be piano master, a simple and approachable star, a medium for Sino-foreign cultural exchanges, and a model of commercial art.