Lang Lang, Biography
Lang Lang (Chinese: born 14 June 1982) is a concert pianist who was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras. Lang Lang has received many awards and made many television appearances. His Sony Chopin Album received the 2013 Echo Klassik Award.
Youth and Childhood of Lang
Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China. His father Lang Guoren is also a musician, who plays the traditional Chinese stringed instrument erhu. At the age of two, Lang watched the Tom and Jerry episode The Cat Concerto which features the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt. According to Lang, this first contact with Western music is what motivated him to learn piano. He began piano lessons with Professor Zhu Ya-Fen at age three. At the age of five, he won first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition and performed his first public recital.
When Lang was nine years old, he intended to audition for Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music, but was expelled from his piano tutor's studio for lack of talent. Another music teacher at his state school noticed Lang Lang's sadness, and decided to comfort him by playing a record of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K. 330. She asked him to play along with the second movement. This reminded Lang of his love of the instrument and gave him hope again. He was later admitted into the conservatory where he studied under Professor Zhao Ping-Guo.
In 1993, at age 11, Lang won the Xing Hai Cup Piano Competition in Beijing and, in 1994, was awarded first prize for outstanding artistic performance at the fourth International Competition for Young Pianists in Ettlingen, Germany. In 1995, at 13 years of age, he played the Op. 10 and Op. 25 études by Chopin at the Beijing Concert Hall and, in the same year, won first place at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Japan, playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert broadcast by NHK Television. When 14, he was a featured soloist at the China National Symphony's inaugural concert, which was broadcast by China Central Television and attended by President Jiang Zemin.
In 1997 at age 15, Lang began studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Lang Lang's performance style was controversial when he stormed into the classical music scene in 1999 at age 17. Some have described him as immature, but admitted that his ability to conquer crowds with youthful bravado was phenomenal among classical musicians. In subsequent years, Lang was maturing as an artist. In April 2009, when Time Magazine included Lang Lang in its list of the 100 most influential people, Herbie Hancock described his playing as so sensitive and so deeply human, that hearing him play never ceases to touch ones heart.
In 2001, after a sold-out Carnegie Hall debut with Yuri Temirkanov, Lang travelled to Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra on a tour celebrating its 100th anniversary, during which he performed to an audience of 8,000 at the Great Hall of the People. The same year, he made an acclaimed BBC Proms debut and took a sold-out Royal Albert Hall by storm which could well be history in the making. In 2003, he returned to the BBC Proms for the First Night concert with Leonard Slatkin.
Lang Lang was the featured soloist on the Golden Globe winning score of The Painted Veil and can be heard on the soundtrack of The Banquet. He has recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon and Telarc labels. His album of the first and fourth Beethoven piano concertos with the Orchestre de Paris and Christoph Eschenbach debuted at No. 1 on the Traditional Classical Billboard Chart. In 2008, he was the pianist on Mike Oldfield's 2008 album Music of the Spheres. In the same year, he also partnered with Google and YouTube in the project YouTube Symphony Orchestra
In 2010, Lang signed with Sony for a reported $3 million. He has also recorded piano works for the video game Gran Turismo 5's soundtrack, mostly under the "Classical" subgenre. This included versions of Danny Boy, Beethoven's 8th Piano Sonata, and one of the game's intro pieces, the third movement from Prokofiev's 7th Piano Sonata.
Finally, Lang has performed for numerous international dignitaries including the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, President Hu Jintao of China, President Horst Köhler of Germany, Prince Charles, as well as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
Lang Lang has conquered the classical world with dazzling technique and charisma. He successfully straddles two worlds – classical prodigy and rock-like superstar.
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