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Lang Lang

Arguably the most famous Chinese pianist of all time, Lang Lang has become a superstar on the Classical music stage, with the popularity and charisma of many leading rock musicians. Many of his performances and interviews are available online, and several have drawn over one million hits. His recordings are hits, too, and his concerts are regularly sold-out well ahead of schedule. Lang Lang's manner during performances can be eccentric but fascinating: he is very animated, frequently smiles, and often looks away from the keyboard, even during extremely difficult passages. While Lang Lang plays many traditional and contemporary Chinese works, he performs mostly Western repertory, with the names Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and many others, regularly appearing on his programs. Lang Lang has toured widely throughout Asia, Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere across the globe and has made numerous recordings, most prominently for Deutsche Grammophon and Sony Classical. Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, China, on June 14, 1982. His father is a well-known musician in China who plays the ehru. At three, reportedly inspired by a scrap of one of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, Lang Lang began piano lessons and at five won a local competition. In 1991, nine-year-old Lang Lang moved with his father to Beijing for studies at the Central Music Conservatory. Despite initial troubles there, he advanced under the guidance of Zhao Ping-Guo. Lang Lang won the 1993 Beijing-based Xing Hai Cup Piano Competition and the following year captured first prize at the International Competition for Young Pianists in Ettlingen, Germany. He appeared on Japanese television in 1995 in a performance of the Chopin Second Concerto with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. He began studies at the Curtis Institute with Gary Graffman in 1997, at age 15. In 1999, Lang Lang debuted at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago with an acclaimed performance of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto. 2001 was another breakthrough year: Lang Lang debuted at Carnegie Hall in a program that included Haydn, Tan Dun, and Liszt, and then went on tour to Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also debuted later that year at the Proms in Royal Albert Hall, London. Lang Lang's 2003 recording of the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn first piano concertos with Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra drew much critical acclaim. Further successful recordings and concerts followed, including his 2007 appearance at the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden. Lang Lang's performance at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was reportedly viewed by more than a billion people. He is the author of an autobiography, Journey of a Thousand Miles; it has also been released as Playing with Flying Keys, a version for children. Controversy erupted in Lang Lang's career when in January 2011, he appeared at the White House and performed an arrangement of My Motherland, a Chinese melody once associated with anti-American feelings. Lang Lang graciously responded to negative commentary that he intended no criticism whatever of the U.S. Among Lang Lang's more acclaimed recordings is 2010's Lang Lang Live in Vienna, which features works by Beethoven, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Albeniz. Lang Lang also performed on the soundtracks of The Banquet (scored by Tan Dun), Gran Turismo 5, and The Painted Veil (composed by Alexandre Desplat), which won a Golden Globe for best score. In the 2010s, Lang Lang aimed squarely at mainstream audiences and was rewarded with consistently strong album sales. He released survey albums devoted to Liszt (My Piano Hero), Chopin, and Mozart. In 2015, Lang Lang in Paris arrived, featuring recordings from the Opera Bastille, as well as a DVD of his recital at the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. The following year, he issued New York Rhapsody, which featured guests like Herbie Hancock, Jason Isbell, Lindsey Stirling, and more. 2017 saw the release of Howard Shore's Two Concerti, which featured Lang Lang on the composer's Ruin & Memory. Following an injury to his left hand brought on by over-practicing, Lang Lang returned to the stage in July 2018 at the Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony. He sealed his comeback in 2019 with the Piano Book album, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Classical Albums chart. The following year, he issued the albums Lang Lang at the Movies and his first recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, which he has had memorized since he was a teenager. Lang Lang and his wife, pianist Gina Alice, welcomed their first child in 2021, and in 2022, Gina joined Lang Lang as a guest on his massive crossover hit The Disney Book.
© TiVo Staff /TiVo
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