Lang Lang after a performance at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, 2010
June 14, 1982|
Shenhe District, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
|Alma mater||Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia|
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.
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 the erhu. At the age of two, Lang watched the Tom and Jerry episode The Cat Concerto, which features the 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. 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, having difficulties with his lessons, was expelled from his piano tutor's studio for "lack of talent". 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.
Lang was later admitted into the conservatory, where he studied under Professor Zhao Ping-Guo. In 1993, 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; in the same year, Lang also 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 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.
Performing and recording career
Lang has given recitals and concerts in many major cities and was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras. 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". 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." National Public Radio's Morning Edition remarked that "Lang Lang has conquered the classical world with dazzling technique and charisma." 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."
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."  Others have described him as immature, but admitted that his ability to "conquer crowds with youthful bravado" is phenomenal among classical musicians. His maturity in subsequent years was reported by The New Yorker: "The ebullient Lang Lang is maturing as an artist." 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."
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. 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". 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". 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!"
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 2010, he signed with Sony for a reported $3 million.
Lang 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, 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.
On March 30, 2017, he announced on Facebook that he has an arm injury on his left arm. 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.
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. Although the tune is popular and has lost much of its political and historical significance in China, the performance was said to be interpreted by some as insulting the USA.
In response to the controversy Lang denied that he had intended to insult the United States. 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." 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."
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.
In December 2007, Lang performed at the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm. Collaborating with Seiji Ozawa, he appeared at the New Year's Eve gala opening for the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He also participated in the opening concert at Munich's Olympic Stadium with Mariss Jansons, marking the commencement of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, 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.
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. 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. 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. In April 2008, he premiered Tan Dun's First Piano Concerto, subtitled "The Fire". 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.
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. Lang holds the title of the first Ambassador of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.
Lang was featured in the award-winning German-Austrian documentary Pianomania, 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.
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. In 2012, Lang gave a masterclass to a select few pianists at the Royal College of Music featuring Lara Ömeroğlu and Martin James Bartlett.
On 30 April 2015, Lang performed at the Expo 2015 opening concert with Andrea Bocelli at Piazza del Duomo in Milan.
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 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, and in Gramophone magazine's Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2008, the Recording Academy named him their Cultural Ambassador to China. 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. The Chinese government selected him as a vice-president of the All-China Youth Federation.
The Financial Times reported that Lang is "evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music." In October 2008, he launched the Lang International Music Foundation in New York with the support of the Grammys and UNICEF. 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."
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.
On October 28, 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.
His Sony Chopin Album received the 2013 Echo Klassik Award.
- Na Young Kwon, "An Avante Garde Pianist: A musical genius finds inspiration from the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution", International Examiner. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang's Journey to Beethoven". Morning Edition. 8 May 2007. National Public Radio. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- Lang, Lang; David Ritz. "Tom and Gerry". Journey of a Thousand Miles. pp. Spiegel & Graul.
- Stevenson, Joseph.Lang Lang biography. AllMusic
- "Lang Lang looks back".Billboard; 18 February 2006
- "Lang Lang: Chapter 5: First Step Towards the World Stage"[permanent dead link], Chinese Biographies, Cheng & Tsui. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- Lang Lang biography Archived 17 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. at Telarc
- "Lang Lang: Chapter 6: A Miracle in Musical History"[permanent dead link], Chinese Biographies, Cheng & Tsui. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- Rosanna Greenstreet. "Lang Lang: 'I'd play the piano at 5am' | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- "Lang Lang". Retrieved 11 September 2011. (archived from the original on 2013-10-19)
- Rhein, John von (7 March 2000). "Lang Leaves Audience Elated". Chicago Tribune. (subscription required)
- Valerie Scher, "Around the world in 88 keys: The piano has taken Lang Lang from poverty to superstardom" Archived 2 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine., U-T San Diego, 28 September 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang's Journey to Beethoven", NPR Music, 8 May 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Emma Pomfret, "Lang Lang: China's classical superstar", The Sunday Times, 11 April 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Sharp, Rob (3 June 2011). "Pianist Lang Lang hits out at 'Bang Bang' critics". The Independent. London. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Ross, Alex. "The wow factor", The New Yorker, 2 April 2007, Vol. 83, Issue 6.
- Herbie Hancock, "Lang Lang", Time, 30 April 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang Biography", Deutsche Grammophon. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Lang Lang, piano Archived 17 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. La Jolla Music Society: 2007.
- Jasper Rees (2008-11-10). "Lang Lang: piano star the critics love to hate". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- "Artist Biography: Lang Lang", San Francisco Symphony. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang – Biography". Billboard. 1982-06-14. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- John Sunier, "Mike Oldfield: Music of the Spheres – Lang Lang, piano/Hayley Westenra, lead vocals/ Sinfonia Sfera Orchestra/Karl Jenkins – Decca" Archived 6 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Audiophile Audition. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- "Lang Lang is returning to Walt Disney Concert Hall to perform". Asia Pacific Arts. 1 November 2011.
- "An Interview With Pianist Lang Lang" Archived 5 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine., dmx. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang" Archived 4 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Cami Music. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang – 郎朗". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- "Lang Lang – 郎朗". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- West, Philip; Levine, Steven I.; Hiltz, Jackie (1998), America's Wars in Asia: a Cultural Approach to History and Memory, Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, p. 193, ISBN 0-7656-0237-7
- Yan, Cathy (22 January 2011). "Lang Lang's Performance at the White House: Display Of Harmony Or Subtle Dis?". The Wall Street Journal.
- Zhang, Hong (2002), The Making of Urban Chinese Images of the United States, 1945–1953, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, p. 161, ISBN 0-313-31001-7
- Ford, Peter (26 January 2011), "How pianist Lang Lang stirred up trouble for US and China at a White House State dinner", The Christian Science Monitor
- Richter, Paul (25 January 2011), Chinese-born pianist denies he played song to insult U.S., Los Angeles Times
- Tapper, Jake (24 January 2011), White House Says Chinese Folk Song Played During State Dinner Was Not An Insult; Experts Divided, ABC News, archived from the original on 26 January 2011
- "Lang Lang", Hollywood Bowl. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Piano Masters: Lang Lang – Sold Out!", Montalco Arts. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "July 5, 2007: Teatro del Silenzio, Lajatico, Italy", Bocelli Deutschland. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "3 Orchester & Stars", Munich Olympia Park. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang at Schönbrunn", C Major Entertainment. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- "China's Superstar Pianist Lang Lang to Perform to Over Five Billion Viewers at 2008 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in Beijing on Friday, August 8th" Archived 16 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine., PR Newswire quoting Align Entertainment Group as source. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- Jie, Chen. Lang delights the crowd with moving performance China Daily
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Nordlinger, Jay (11 April 2008). "Tan Dun's Musical Mishmash". The Sun. New York. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- "Lang Lang Sets Peaceful Mood in Oslo" Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Confucius Institute. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- Caesar, Ed (2008-08-04). "The Olympian". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- "Lang Lang, the first YouTube Symphony Orchestra Ambassador", YouTube. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Ten-Year-Old Prodigy Plays Carnegie Hall". CBS News. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Pianomania". Oval-film.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- "Pianomania", First Run Features. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Ancient Paths, Modern Voices", Carnegie Hall. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "New Year's Eve: Alan Gilbert, Lang Lang, and Tchaikovsky" Archived 9 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine., New York Philharmonic. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- Ivan Hewett, "BBC Proms 2011: Last night of the Proms, review", The Telegraph, 10 September 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- Mark Savage, "Stars shine on The Queen at Jubilee concert", BBC News, 5 June 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- "9 'Mozart in the Jungle' Scene-Stealing Cameos from Season 2". 6 January 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
- "Lang Lang (pianist)". Gramophone. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "The Recording Academy Announces Lang Lang As Grammy Culture Ambassador To China", Global Rhythm, 21 October 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "Lang Lang: Goodwill Ambassador", UNICEF. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "Message from 'EU-China Year of Youth' Ambassador Lang Lang", All-China Youth Federation, 13 March 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Rahul Jacob, "Lunch with the FT: Lang Lang", 11 April 2009. Financial Times. Retrieved 13 September 2011..
- Paula Harrington, "Lang Lang launches foundation to support children’s love of music", UNICEF, 20 October 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- Lang Lang International Music Foundation Archived 15 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "The World's Most Talented Kids", Oprah.com, 18 May 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
- "Telefónica elige como embajador internacional de su marca al artista chino Lang Lang, el mejor pianista del mundo", Telefónica Noticias. (in Spanish) Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Pianist Lang Lang mit Bundesverdienstkreuz geehrt" [Pianist Lang Lang awarded the Federal Cross of Merit]. Die Welt (in German). Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 25 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- "Chinese Pianist Lang Lang Chosen as UN Messenger of Peace". Time.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2013.
- Lang, Lang (2008). Journey of a thousand miles: my story (1st ed.). New York: Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 9780385524568. OCLC 179834007.
- Lang, Lang: "Lang Lang: playing with flying keys", Lang Lang with Michael French, introduction by Daniel Barenboim, New York: Delacorte Press, 2008, 215 p. ISBN 978-0-385-73578-0
- Wu, Grace: "Lang Lang", Cheng & Tsui Co, 2010, 93 p. ISBN 0-88727-758-6
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lang Lang|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lang Lang (pianist).|