One of the most famous Chinese pianists of all time, Lang Lang became a superstar on the Classical music stage. He rose to fame with the popularity and charisma of many leading rock musicians. His recordings are hits, and his concerts are usually sold-out ahead of schedule. His performance manner is eccentric but fascinating. He plays animatedly, often smiles, and often looks away from the keyboard, even during challenging passages. Although Lang plays many traditional and contemporary Chinese works, he performs primarily Western repertory. His favorite ones are Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev, who make regular appearances in his programs. The musical prodigy toured widely throughout Asia, Europe, the U.K., U.S., and elsewhere across the globe. In addition, Lang made numerous recordings with Decca, DG, Sony, and Telarc.
Born in Shenyang, China, on June 14, 1982, Lang Lang’s father was also a well-known musician who played the ehru. Reportedly inspired by a scrap of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies in a Tom and Jerry cartoon at 3, Lang began taking piano lessons. At five, he won a local competition. In 1991 Lang’s father moved to Beijing for his studies at the Central Music Conservatory. He advanced under the guidance of his teacher Zhao Ping-Guo despite having difficulties in the beginning.
In 1993, Lang won the Beijing-based Xing Hai Cup Piano Competition. He even captured first prize at the International Competition for Young Pianists in 1994 in Ettlingen, Germany.
In 1995 Lang also appeared on Japanese television in a performance of the Chopin Second Concerto with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1997, he studied with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute.
He debuted at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago with an acclaimed performance of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto in 1999.
2001 proved to be another breakthrough year for Lang. The musical prodigy debuted at Carnegie Hall in Haydn, Schubert, Tan Dun, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt. He then went on tour to Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He debuted later that year at the Proms in Royal Albert Hall, London.
In 2003, Lang’s CD received much critical acclaim. His newer recordings and concerts followed the trail of success. He appeared at the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010. His 2008 Summer Olympics performance at the opening ceremony received more than a billion live viewers. Lang was one of the performers for the New Year’s Eve China festival with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 2010. He released an autobiography, Journey of a Thousand Miles. It was renamed as Playing with Flying Keys, a version for children.
In the 2010s, he aimed squarely at mainstream audiences and received consistently strong album sales. He released survey albums devoted to Liszt, Chopin, and Mozart and thematic programs: Piano Daydreams and New York Rhapsody (2016). Lang also served as accompanist to such diverse famous singers. He last recorded in 2017 a pair of piano concertos by film composer Howard Shore of Lord of the Rings fame.
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