Lang Lang

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Lang Lang
Lang Lang - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010 Davos cropped.jpg
Lang Lang after a performance at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, 2010
Native name
郎朗
Born (1982-06-14) 14 June 1982 (age 37)
Residence New York City [1] [2]
Alma mater Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia
OccupationPianist
Years active1993–present
AgentCAMI
Spouse(s)Gina Alice Redlinger (m. 2019)
Parent(s)Lang Guoren (郎国任)
Zhou Xiulan (周秀兰)

Lang Lang (Chinese :郎朗; pinyin :Láng Lǎng; born 14 June 1982) is a Chinese concert pianist who has performed with leading orchestras in the United States, Europe, and Canada, in addition to his native China.

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Pinyin Chinese romanization scheme for Mandarin

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Pianist musician who plays the piano

A pianist is an individual musician who plays the piano. Since most forms of Western music can make use of the piano, pianists have a wide repertoire and a wide variety of styles to choose from, among them traditional classical music, jazz, blues, and all sorts of popular music, including rock and roll. Most pianists can, to an extent, easily play other keyboard-related instruments such as the synthesizer, harpsichord, celesta, and the organ.

Contents

Early life

Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China on 14 June 1982. His father Lang Guoren is a member of the Manchu Niohuru clan, which brought forth a long line of Qing Empresses. The elder Lang is also a musician; he plays the traditional Chinese stringed instrument erhu. [3] At the age of two, Lang watched the Tom and Jerry episode The Cat Concerto , which features Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Lang has said it was this—his first contact with Western classical music—that motivated him to learn the piano. [4] [5] 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. [6]

Shenyang Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Liaoning, Peoples Republic of China

Shenyang, formerly known by its Manchu name Mukden or Fengtian, is the provincial capital and the largest city of Liaoning Province, People's Republic of China, as well as the largest city in Northeast China by urban population. According to the 2010 census, the city's urban area has 6.3 million inhabitants, while the total population of the Shenyang municipality, which holds the administrative status of a sub-provincial city, is up to 8.1 million. Shenyang's city region includes the ten metropolitan districts of Shenyang proper, the county-level city of Xinmin, and two counties of Kangping and Faku.

Liaoning Province

Liaoning is a province located in the northeastern part of China, being the smallest but the most populous province in the region. The modern Liaoning province was established in 1907 as Fengtian or Fengtien province and was renamed Liaoning in 1929, also known as Mukden Province at the time for the Manchu pronunciation of Shengjing, the former name of the provincial capital Shenyang. Under the Japanese-puppet Manchukuo regime, the province reverted to its 1907 name, but the name Liaoning was restored in 1945 and again in 1954.

The Manchu are an ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria derives its name. They are sometimes called "red-tasseled Manchus", a reference to the ornamentation on traditional Manchu hats. The Later Jin (1616–1636), and Qing dynasty (1636–1912) were established and ruled by Manchus, who are descended from the Jurchen people who earlier established the Jin dynasty (1115–1234) in China.

When Lang was nine years old, he intended to audition for Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music, but, having difficulties with his lessons, was expelled from his piano tutor's studio for "lack of talent". [7] Another music teacher at his state school noticed Lang's sadness, and put the score of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K. 330 on the piano; she asked him to play the second movement, which reminded Lang of his love for the instrument. "Playing the K. 330 brought me hope again," he recalled. [7]

Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China

The Central Conservatory of Music is China's leading music school. Its campus is in the Xicheng District of Beijing, China, near Fuxingmen Station. It is a Chinese Ministry of Education Double First Class Discipline University, with Double First Class status in certain disciplines.

Piano Sonata No. 10 (Mozart)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K. 330 / 300h, is one of the three works in the cycle of piano sonatas K.330-332. The sonata was composed in 1783, when Mozart was 27 years old. It was published, with the other two sonatas by Artaria in 1784. A typical performance of this sonata lasts around twenty minutes.

Lang was later admitted into the conservatory, where he studied under Professor Zhao Ping-Guo. [8] In 1993, Lang won the Xinghai National 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. [6] In 1995, at 13 years of age, he played the Op. 10 and Op. 25 études by Chopin at the Beijing Concert Hall; in the same year, Lang also won first place at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Japan, [6] playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert broadcast by NHK Television. [9] When he was 14, Lang 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.

Ettlingen Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Ettlingen is a town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of the city of Karlsruhe and approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the border with Lauterbourg, in France's Bas-Rhin department. Ettlingen is the second largest town in the district of Karlsruhe, after Bruchsal.

The Études by Frédéric Chopin are three sets of études for the piano published during the 1830s. There are twenty-seven compositions overall, comprising two separate collections of twelve, numbered Op. 10 and Op. 25, and a set of three without opus number.

Frédéric Chopin Polish composer and pianist

Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."

In 1997, at 15 years of age, Lang and his father left for the United States, where Lang began studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [10] [11]

Gary Graffman is an American classical pianist, teacher and administrator.

Curtis Institute of Music music school

The Curtis Institute of Music is a conservatory in Philadelphia that offers courses of study leading to a performance diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, or Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. It is among the most selective institutes of higher education in the world with a 4.8% admissions rate.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Performing and recording career

Lang Lang and singer Katharine McPhee perform at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C., 24 May 2009 Katherine McPhee.jpg
Lang Lang and singer Katharine McPhee perform at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C., 24 May 2009

Lang has performed in major cities and was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras. [12] A Chicago Tribune music critic called him "the biggest, most exciting young keyboard talent I have encountered in many a year of attending piano recitals". [13] Lang has been praised by musicians and critics around the world—the conductor Jahja Ling remarked, "Lang Lang is special because of his total mastery of the piano... He has the flair and great communicative power." [14] National Public Radio's Morning Edition remarked that "Lang Lang has conquered the classical world with dazzling technique and charisma." [15] It is often noted that Lang successfully straddles two worlds—classical prodigy and rock-like "superstar", a phenomenon summed up by The Times journalist Emma Pomfret, who wrote, "I can think of no other classical artist who has achieved Lang Lang's broad appeal without dumbing down." [16]

Berlin Philharmonic orchestra based in Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Philharmonic is a German orchestra based in Berlin. It is traditionally ranked as being in the top handful of orchestras in the world, distinguished amongst peers for its virtuosic and compelling sound. The orchestra’s history has always been tied up with its chief conductors, many of whom have been authoritative and controversial characters, such as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan.

Vienna Philharmonic symphonic orchestra

The Vienna Philharmonic, founded in 1842, is an orchestra considered to be one of the finest in the world.

<i>Chicago Tribune</i> Major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The Chicago Tribune is a daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, owned by Tribune Publishing. Founded in 1847, and formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper", it remains the most-read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region. It had the 6th highest circulation for American newspapers in 2017.

Lang's performance style was controversial when he stormed into the classical music scene in 1999. At that time, pianist Earl Wild called him "the J. Lo of the piano." [17] Others have described him as immature, but admitted that his ability to "conquer crowds with youthful bravado" is phenomenal among classical musicians. [18] His maturity in subsequent years was reported by The New Yorker : "The ebullient Lang Lang is maturing as an artist." [18] In April 2009, when Time Magazine included Lang in its list of the 100 most influential people, Herbie Hancock described his playing as "so sensitive and so deeply human", commenting: "You hear him play, and he never ceases to touch your heart." [19]

In 2001, after a sold-out Carnegie Hall debut with Yuri Temirkanov, he traveled 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. [20] The same year, he made an acclaimed BBC Proms debut, prompting a music critic of the British newspaper The Times to write, "Lang Lang took a sold-out Royal Albert Hall by storm... This could well be history in the making". [20] In 2003, he returned to the BBC Proms for the First Night concert with Leonard Slatkin. After his recital debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Berliner Zeitung wrote: "Lang Lang is a superb musical performer whose artistic touch is always in service of the music". [21] However, recent reviews have been mixed. Lately, a plethora of music critics have protested against too much showmanship; not enough care; not enough sensitivity. But audiences continue to adore him. Lang has become one of those artists whose career prospers outside the boundaries of critical approval. The pianist is bemused by the backlash: "You get many good reviews from the beginning," he says, "and then the critics start criticising you. It's strange. The things they liked you for first—unique, fresh—they say is great. And then later they say you're too fresh, too unique. But they're the same thing!" [22]

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 . [23] 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. [24] In 2008, he was the pianist on Mike Oldfield's 2008 album Music of the Spheres . [25] In 2010, he signed with Sony for a reported $3 million. [26] Metallica performed the song One alongside pianist Lang Lang at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014.

In December 2008, Lang partnered with Google and YouTube in the project YouTube Symphony Orchestra. [27]

Lang has also recorded piano works for the video game Gran Turismo 5's soundtrack, mostly under the "Classical" subgenre. [28] This included versions of Danny Boy, Scott Joplin's The Entertainer, Beethoven's 8th Piano Sonata, and one of the game's intro pieces, the third movement from Prokofiev's 7th Piano Sonata.

Finally, he 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. [29]

On 30 March 2017, he announced on Facebook that he has an arm injury on his left arm. [30] He subsequently announced that he cancelled all performances through the end of June under his doctor's recommendations to allow time for his left arm to recover. [31]

White House state dinner

At the White House state dinner in honour of President of China Hu Jintao on 19 January 2011, one of the tunes Lang played was the song "My Motherland" from the movie Battle on Shangganling Mountain , an anti-imperialist film on the Korean War. The song's lyrics include the line "We deal with wolves with guns", which in the film referred indirectly to the United States Army. [32] [33] Although the tune is popular and has lost much of its political and historical significance in China, [34] the performance was said to be interpreted by some as insulting the US. [35]

In response to the controversy Lang denied that he had intended to insult the United States. [36] He later released a statement stating that he "selected this song because it has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. It was selected for no other reason but for the beauty of its melody." [36] White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor also responded by saying My Motherland is "widely known and popular in China for its melody. Lang played the song without lyrics or reference to any political theme ....Any suggestion that this was an insult to the United States is just flat wrong." [37]

Select appearances

Lang at the international Chopin Year 2010 Chopin Year in Poland - Lang Lang 01.jpg
Lang at the international Chopin Year 2010

Lang has performed at various open-air venues, including Central Park New York, Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles, the Ravinia Festival Chicago, Theaterplatz in Dresden and Derby Park Hamburg. [38] [39]

In July 2007, he played at a concert from the Teatro del Silenzio, Lajatico, Italy, hosted by Andrea Bocelli. He performed "Io ci sarò" with Bocelli, and Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody". The performance is available on a DVD entitled Vivere Live in Tuscany . [40]

In December 2007, Lang performed at the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm. [39] Collaborating with Seiji Ozawa, he appeared at the New Year's Eve gala opening for the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. [23] He also participated in the opening concert at Munich's Olympic Stadium with Mariss Jansons, marking the commencement of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, [41] and, in a celebratory concert held the night before the last match of the 2008 Euro Cup finals, Lang played with the Vienna Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta in front of Schönbrunn Palace. [42]

In 2008, an audience estimated at between one and four billion people saw Lang's performance in Beijing's opening ceremony for the 2008 Summer Olympics where he was promoted as a symbol of the youth and future of China. [43] During these games, he was also featured on the German TV network ZDF and made several appearances on NBC's The Today Show Summer Olympics broadcasts. In the opening ceremony he performed a melody from the Yellow River Cantata with five-year-old Li Muzi. [44] Lang also collaborated with a German band Schiller to record "Time for Dreams", used to promote some coverage of the 2008 Olympics broadcast in Germany.

In February 2008, Lang and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock performed together at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, playing George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue . The two were again brought in by United Airlines for the reintroduction of their "It's Time to Fly" advertising campaign with a series of new animated commercials aired during the 2008 Summer Olympics. [45] In April 2008, he premiered Tan Dun's First Piano Concerto, subtitled "The Fire". [46] Hancock and Lang continued to collaborate with a world tour in summer 2009. Lang played at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for US President Barack Obama and at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo the next day. [47]

Lang has made numerous TV appearances including The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno , Good Morning America , CBS Early Show and 60 Minutes . He has featured in publications including The New Yorker , Esquire , Vogue (Germany), The Times , Financial Times , GQ , Die Welt , Reader's Digest and People . [48] Lang holds the title of the first Ambassador of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. [49]

In 2009, he performed at Carnegie Hall accompanied by Marc Yu, a 10-year-old pianist and musical child prodigy from Pasadena, California, who made his Carnegie Hall debut at the event. [50]

Lang was featured in the award-winning German-Austrian documentary Pianomania, [51] which was directed by Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis. The film premiered theatrically in North America, Asia and throughout Europe, and is a part of the Goethe-Institut catalogue. [52]

In 2010, he was featured at the Carnegie Hall's China Festival and performed with the New York Philharmonic on New Year's Eve at Avery Fisher Hall. [53] [54]

In 2011, Lang opened the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall performing with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He played Liszt's 1st Piano Concerto and Chopin’s Grande Polonaise Brillante. [55]

In June 2012, he played Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 and Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace. [56] In 2012, Lang gave a masterclass to a select few pianists at the Royal College of Music featuring Lara Ömeroğlu and Martin James Bartlett.

In January 2014, Lang collaborated with heavy metal band Metallica at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, performing their iconic 1988 anti-war classic "One".

On 3 July 2014, Lang played at Byblos International Festival in Byblos, Lebanon. [57]

On 19 September, he played with Korean artist PSY for opening ceremony of 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

On 18 October, Lang performed at the Red Velvet Ball with the St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson at Powell Hall.

On 8 February 2015, Lang played with Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, performing Pharrell's hit song "Happy".

On 30 April 2015, Lang performed at the Expo 2015 opening concert with Andrea Bocelli at Piazza del Duomo in Milan.

On 4 July 2015, Lang performed "Rhapsody in Blue" during "A Capitol Fourth", a U.S. Independence Day celebration televised from Washington, D.C..

In a cameo appearance in the 30 December 2015 episode of "Mozart in the Jungle", Lang performed a version of Franz Liszt’s "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2". [58]

Books

Lang's autobiography, Journey of a Thousand Miles, published by Random House in eight languages, was released in the summer of 2008. Delacorte Press also released a version of the autobiography specifically for younger readers, entitled Playing with Flying Keys.

Awards and outreach

Lang Lang has received many awards and made many television appearances. His DG recording of Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 4 with Christoph Eschenbach was nominated for a Grammy Award during the year of its release.

He appeared in Time magazine's 2009 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, [19] and in Gramophone magazine's Hall of Fame in 2012. [59] In 2008, the Recording Academy named him their Cultural Ambassador to China. [60] More recently, Lang has been chosen as an official worldwide ambassador to the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Lang was appointed by the United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF) as an International Goodwill Ambassador in 2004. [61] The Chinese government selected him as a vice-president of the All-China Youth Federation. [62]

The Financial Times reported that Lang is "evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music." [63] In October 2008, he launched the Lang International Music Foundation in New York with the support of the Grammys and UNICEF. [64] [65] In May 2009, Lang and his three chosen scholars from the foundation—Charlie Liu, Anna Larsen, and Derek Wang, aged between eight and 10 years old—performed together on The Oprah Winfrey Show ." [66] [ check quotation syntax ] In June 2011, Lang was engaged by Telefónica to make appearances concerning culture, technology, education and social commitment. [67]

On 22 July 2012, Lang carried the London 2012 Olympic torch through Hornchurch on its Redbridge to Bexley leg. On 24 August 2012, he was awarded the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his engagement in the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. [68]

On 28 October 2013, Lang was chosen by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be a United Nations Messenger of Peace—a role he says is more important than his music because it can help improve the lives of children around the world through education. [69]

His Sony Chopin Album received the 2013 Echo Klassik Award.

Personal life

In June 2019, Lang married fellow pianist Gina Alice Redlinger in Paris, France. [70] [71]

Discography

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Further reading