Yuja Wang

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yuja Wang
Wang performing at Carnegie Hall in 2017
Background information
Born (1987-02-10) February 10, 1987 (age 36)
Beijing, China
Years active1998–present
LabelsDeutsche Grammophon
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese王羽佳

Yuja Wang (Chinese: 王羽佳; pinyin: Wáng Yǔjiā; born February 10, 1987)[1] is a Chinese pianist. Born in Beijing, she began learning the piano there at age six, and went on to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.[2] By the age of 21, she was already an internationally recognized concert pianist and signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.[3][4] She has since established herself as one of the leading artists of her generation.[5] Wang currently lives in New York.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Wang comes from an artistic family. Her mother, Zhai Jieming, is a dancer and her father, Wang Jianguo, is a percussionist. Both live in Beijing.[8]

Wang began learning the piano at age six.[2] At age seven, she began studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. At age eleven, Wang entered the Morningside Music Bridge International Music Festival (at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta) as the festival's youngest student.[9]

At the age of fifteen, Wang entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she studied for five years with Gary Graffman and graduated in 2008. Graffman said that Wang's technique impressed him during her audition, but "it was the intelligence and good taste" of her interpretations that distinguished her.[8]


Early career[edit]

In 1998, at the age of eleven, Wang received third prize in the Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists in Germany.[10] Three years later, she won the third prize and the special jury prize (awarded to an outstanding finalist less than 20 years of age, with prize money of 500,000 Japanese yen) at the first Sendai International Music Competition in Sendai, Japan.[11]

In 2002, Wang won the concerto competition at the Aspen Music Festival.[12]

In 2003, Wang made her European debut with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Switzerland, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 under the baton of David Zinman. She made her North American debut in Ottawa in the 2005–2006 season, replacing Radu Lupu performing that Beethoven concerto with Pinchas Zukerman conducting.[13]

On September 11, 2005, Wang was named a 2006 biennial Gilmore Young Artist Award winner, given to the most promising pianists age 22 and younger. As part of the award, she received $15,000, appeared at Gilmore Festival concerts, and had a new piano work commissioned for her.[14]

In 2006, Wang made her New York Philharmonic debut at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival. The following season, she performed with the orchestra under Lorin Maazel during a tour of Japan and Korea by the Philharmonic.[15]

In March 2007, Wang's breakthrough came when she replaced Martha Argerich in concerts held in Boston.[16][17][18] Argerich had cancelled her appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on four subscription concerts from March 8 to 13.[16] Wang performed Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Charles Dutoit conducting.

After 2007[edit]

Wang performing with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg in 2021

In 2008, Wang toured the U.S. with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields led by Sir Neville Marriner. In 2009, she performed as a soloist with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, led by Michael Tilson Thomas at Carnegie Hall. Wang performed with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado in Beijing, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Spain and in London, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.[15]

In 2009, Wang performed and recorded Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in G Minor with Kurt Masur at the Verbier Festival, accompanied by Kirill Troussov, David Aaron Carpenter, Maxim Rysanov, Sol Gabetta, and Leigh Mesh.[19] Her performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" is featured on the Verbier Festival highlights DVD from 2008.

In 2012, Wang toured with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Zubin Mehta in Israel and the U.S., with a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York in September.[20]

Wang toured Asia in November 2012 with the San Francisco Symphony and its conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.[21]

In February 2013,[22] Wang performed and recorded Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2 and Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 with Conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Venezuelan Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar.[23] Also in 2013, Wang's recital tour of Japan culminated with her recital debut at Tokyo's Suntory Hall.[24]

Wang made her Berlin Philharmonic debut in May 2015, performing Sergei Prokofiev's 2nd Piano Concerto with Conductor Paavo Järvi. The performance was broadcast live through the orchestra's Digital Concert Hall.[25]

In a departure from her previously predominantly Russian repertoire, Wang played Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, the Jeunehomme, in February 2016 at David Geffen Hall in New York on four successive nights with Charles Dutoit conducting, then, in her debut with the Vienna Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev in Munich and Paris.[26]

In March 2016, Wang played for three nights in Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. In a recital at Carnegie Hall in May 2016, she played Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 29, the Hammerklavier, and two Brahms Ballades and Robert Schumann's Kreisleriana.[26]

Wang performed with the National Youth Orchestra of China for its Carnegie Hall premiere on July 22, 2017, with conductor Ludovic Morlot of the Seattle Symphony, performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor.[27]

In 2019, Wang paid tribute to Kennedy Center Honoree Michael Tilson Thomas with a rendition of "You Come Here Often?"[28]

Regular collaborators[edit]

Wang in 2021

Wang has performed with all the major orchestras in the USA, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Internationally, Wang has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Staatskapelle Berlin, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic,[29] NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and the China Philharmonic among others.

Critical reception[edit]

In a review of her 2011 Carnegie Hall debut, The New York Times wrote:

From the opening piece, an early Scriabin prelude, Ms. Wang played this Chopinesque music, all rippling left-hand figures, and dreamy melodic lines, with a delicacy, poetic grace, and attention to inner musical details that commanded respect. After intermission she offered a rhapsodic, uncommonly nuanced account of the formidable Liszt Sonata in B minor. But the most revealing performance came in Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6 in A. Completed in 1940, this nearly 30-minute work channels some barbaric, propulsive, harmonically brittle outbursts into a formal four-movement sonata structure. In most readings, intriguing tension results from hearing the music of such aggressive modernism reined in by Neo-Classical constraints. Ms. Wang reconciled these conflicting elements through a performance of impressive clarity and detail.[30]

In June 2012, Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Wang is "quite simply, the most dazzlingly, uncannily gifted pianist in the concert world today, and there's nothing left to do but sit back, listen and marvel at her artistry."[31]

From a May 2013 Carnegie Hall concert, The New York Times reported that Wang's "fortissimos were fearsome, but so, in a quieter way, were the longing melodic lines of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's Sonata No. 2." The reviewer added:

The liquidity of her phrasing in the second movement of Scriabin's Sonata No. 2 eerily evoked the sound of woodwinds. In that composer's Sonata No. 6 she juxtaposed colors granitic and gauzy to eerily brilliant effect before closing the written program with a rabid rendition of the one-piano version of "La valse", accentuating the sickliness of Ravel's distorted waltzes.[32]

In May 2016, The New York Times reviewed her performance of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata:

Ms. Wang's virtuosity goes well beyond the uncanny facility. Right through this Beethoven performance she wondrously brought out intricate details, inner voices, and harmonic colorings. The first movement had élan and daring. The scherzo skipped along with mischievousness and rhythmic bite. In the grave, with great slow movement, she played with restraint and poignancy. She kept you on edge during the elusive transition to the gnarly, dense fugue, which she then dispatched with unfathomable dexterity. This was not a probing or profound Hammerklavier. But I admired Ms. Wang's combination of youthful energy and musical integrity.[33]

External image
image icon Wang at the Hollywood Bowl, 2011

Wang has received attention for her eye-catching outfits and glamorous stage presence as well as for her piano playing. In a much-quoted 2011 review of a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Times classical music critic Mark Swed wrote:

But it was Yuja Wang's orange dress for which Tuesday night is likely to be remembered… Her dress Tuesday was so short and tight that had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult. Had her heels been any higher, walking, to say nothing of her sensitive pedaling, would have been unfeasible.[34]

Swed was criticized for this aspect of his review in a Washington Post article titled "Which offends? Her short dress or critic's narrow view?".[35]

In 2017, Michael Levin of the HuffPost described Wang after her concert with Leonidas Kavakos at David Geffen Hall as "one of the most talented, enthralling, and even mesmerizing performers on the world scene".[36]


Wang is a brand ambassador for Rolex, Rimowa and La Mer.[37][38] Since 2011, she has been a Steinway & Sons artist.[39]

In 2019, Wang was featured in Rimowa’s campaign, “Never Still”, alongside LeBron James and Kim Jones.[40][41][42]

World premieres[edit]

Works written for and premiered by Wang include the following:

Other pieces that received world premieres with Wang as soloist include the following:


In January 2009, Wang signed a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.[59]

Although there are reports Wang released a debut CD in 1995,[60][61][62] there is little information available about it.

Movie scores[edit]



  1. ^ Kosman, Joshua (December 28, 2008). "Best classical music of 2008". San Francisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ a b Jepson, Barbara (October 18, 2011). "The Fast and the Serious". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  3. ^ Cummings, Robert. Yuja Wang – Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "Young Artist of the Year". Gramophone Magazine.
  5. ^ "Yuja Wang - Biography". Deutsche Grammophon.
  6. ^ Krista Soriano and Leah Melby Clinton, "For Yuja Wang, You're only as Good as Your Next Performance", Elle, November 20, 2017; Janet Malcolm, "Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance", The New Yorker, September 5, 2016
  7. ^ Woolfie, Zachary (January 31, 2023). "Review: Yuja Wang Sweeps Through a Rachmaninoff Marathon - It was a momentous occasion as Wang played all five of Rachmaninoff's works for piano and orchestra at Carnegie Hall for one show only. - Comment". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 31, 2023. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Schweitzer, Vivien (April 6, 2012). "Talented, Eye-Catching, Unapologetic". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  9. ^ Wang, Yuja (June 9, 2010). Concert Pianist Yuja Wang Talks About the Mount Royal Conservatory. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  10. ^ Prizewinners 1998, Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists
  11. ^ "1st SIMC Piano Section May 26 – June 9, 2001". Sendai International Music Competition for Violin & Piano. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  12. ^ "Young Artist of the Year Award – Yuja Wang". Gramophone. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  13. ^ About Yuja Wang, Deutsche Grammophon
  14. ^ "Gilmore Young Artist Award". The Gilmore. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
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  22. ^ Jean-Pierre Thiollet, 88 notes pour piano solo, "Solo nec plus ultra", Neva Editions, 2015, p.51. ISBN 978 2 3505 5192 0.
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  28. ^ "Kennedy Center Honors 2019 – Performers, Songs, & Honorees Revealed!" (PDF). Just Jared. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  29. ^ "Prom 35: Yuja Wang with the Oslo Philharmonic and Klaus Mäkelä". BBC Music Events. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  30. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (October 21, 2011). "Flaunting Virtuosity (and More)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
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  32. ^ Woolfe, Zachary (May 17, 2013). "Restrained, Then Madly Lyrical: The Pianist as Spring Mechanism". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  33. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (May 15, 2016). "Yuja Wang Tackles Beethoven's Hammerklavier, Assured to a Fault". The New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  34. ^ Mark Swed (August 3, 2011). "Music review: Yuja Wang and Lionel Bringuier at Hollywood Bowl". Los Angeles Times.
  35. ^ Anne Midgette (August 12, 2011). "Which offends? Her short dress or critic's narrow view?". The Washington Post.
  36. ^ Levin, Michael (February 10, 2017). "No Shortcuts For Yuja Wang, The World's Greatest Living Pianist". HuffPost. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  37. ^ "How Rolex is pursuing excellence through music". Prestige Online. February 22, 2023.
  38. ^ "RIMOWA Launches New Campaign With Legendary Talents LeBron James, Kim Jones & Yuja Wang". Yuja Wang.
  39. ^ "Yuja Wang - Steinway". Steinway & Sons.
  40. ^ "LeBron James, Kim Jones and Yuja Wang Star in RIMOWA's "Neverstill" Campaign Films". Hypebeast. May 29, 2019.
  41. ^ "RIMOWA Launches New Campaign With Legendary Talents LeBron James, Kim Jones & Yuja Wang". Haute Living. June 10, 2019.
  42. ^ "What Globe-Trotting Piano Prodigy Yuja Wang Can't Travel Without". Robb Report. July 24, 2019.
  43. ^ "Biography". International Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin Foundation. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
  44. ^ "Rodion Shchedrin (Composer) Artless Pages". Schott Music Group. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
  45. ^ "Artless Pages : 7 Impromptus For Piano (2009)". Theodore Front Musical Literature. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
  46. ^ Jennifer Higdon. "BIOGRAPHY". Jennifer Higdon. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
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External links[edit]