Li Yundi

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Li.
Li Yundi
Born (1982-10-07) October 7, 1982 (age 34)
Chongqing, Sichuan, China
Residence Beijing, China
Citizenship China
Alma mater Shenzhen Arts School
Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover
Occupation Classical pianist
Parent(s) Li Chuan, Zhang Xiaolu
Awards International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition
2000 1st in place
2000 The Fryderyk Chopin Society and Warsaw City Council ex aequo prize for the best performance of a polonaise
Signature of Yundi Li.svg

Li Yundi (simplified Chinese: 李云迪; traditional Chinese: 李雲迪; pinyin: Lǐ Yúndí) (born October 7, 1982) is a Chinese classical pianist. He is also popularly known as Yundi and formerly Yundi Li. Born in Chongqing, Li is most well known for being the youngest pianist to win the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, in 2000, at the age of 18, and to be a judge for it in 2015. He currently resides in Beijing.


His father, Li Chuan, and his mother, Zhang Xiaolu, were both workers for the Sichuan Chongqing Steel and Iron Company.[1] Although coming from a family of non-musicians, Li took to music early. When he was three years old, his parents bought him an accordion after he became so entranced by an accordion player in a shopping mall that he refused to leave.[2] He mastered the instrument by the age of four, studying with Tan Jianmin, a music professor in China. Only one year later, he won the top prize at the Chongqing Children's Accordion Competition.[3] Li began studying piano at the age of seven. Two years later, his teacher introduced him to Dan Zhaoyi, one of China's most renowned piano teachers, with whom he would study for nine years.[4] Li's ambition was to become a professional pianist. In 1994, he entered the Shenzhen Arts School, Shenzhen, China. He later studied at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover in Hanover, Germany.


Li has received top awards at various competitions. He won the Children's Piano Competition in Beijing in 1994.[3] In 1995, he was awarded first place at the Stravinsky International Youth Competition. In 1998, he won the 1998 Missouri Southern International Piano Competition (Junior Division). The next year, he took Third Prize at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition of Utrecht, as well as being a major winner in the China International Piano Competition. He also won first place at the Gina Bachauer Young Artists International Piano Competition.[5]

In October 2000, at the urging of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China, Li participated in the 14th International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. He was the first participant to be awarded First Prize in 15 years. At 18 years of age, he was the youngest winner—and the first Chinese—in the competition's history. Li was given the "Polonaise award" by the Chopin Society for his performance at the competition.[3]

Soon after, Li sought out pianist Arie Vardi as an instructor, and therefore left his parents' home to live and study in Hannover, Germany.[3]

Performing and recording career[edit]

Li's debut in the United States took place in June 2003 at Carnegie Hall, as part of Steinway and Sons' 150th Anniversary Gala. His United States concert debut took place the next month, when he performed Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1. He was also honoured at a special reception at the home of the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, where he performed for various officials of the US State Department.

Li's second recording of Liszt for Deutsche Grammophon, for whom he exclusively recorded until November 2008, was released in August 2003 and was named "Best CD of the Year" by the New York Times. His third recording, comprising Chopin's four Scherzi and three Impromptus, was released in late 2004. He is scheduled to release a recording of Beethoven sonatas in late 2012 for Deutsche Grammophon.[6] He has also given a recital in the renowned Musikverein in Vienna, performing works by Mozart, Scarlatti, Schumann, and Liszt.

Li obtained Hong Kong residency in November 2006 under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, among the first batch of people to do so under the scheme.[7]

Li is the subject of a 2008 feature-length documentary, The Young Romantic: Yundi Li, directed by Barbara Willis Sweete. He appeared as a Pennington Great Performers series artist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, also in 2008. His dismissal from Deutsche Grammophon's artist roster provoked this editorial from the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Li achieves poetic depth with romantic composers like Chopin and Liszt, as he has proved on justly acclaimed CDs for Deutsche Grammophon, as well as at his latest appearance at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 11. There, his renditions of Chopin's "Nocturne in E-flat Major, Opus 9, No. 2" and "Four Mazurkas, Opus 33" evoked a dancing world of tender nostalgia, plumbing emotions that are simply beyond the reach of coarse keyboard poseurs like Mr. Lang. Small wonder that the discerning New York piano critic Harris Goldsmith lauded Mr. Li's "patrician elegance" and "exquisite artistry from one of the greatest talents to surface in years, nay, decades."[8]

In January 2010, Li signed an exclusive recording contract with EMI Classics with plans to record the complete works for solo piano by Frédéric Chopin.[9]

Li performed a solo recital at the Royal Festival Hall in London on March 16, 2010. He played a repertoire of Chopin pieces to a sold-out audience.[10]

Returning to Carnegie Hall, Li toured in 2015 with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, as a featured soloist. After their first concert at Carnegie Hall, the group continued on a seven city tour of China, ending in Hong Kong.


For more details on this topic, see Li Yundi discography.


  1. ^ Chan, Vivien Pik-Kwan. "Shenzhen pianist shows forte". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong =October 21, 2000. p. 1. 
  2. ^ Bargreen, Melinda (April 10, 2005). "Piano prodigy loves what he is doing, as his brilliance attests". Seattle Times. p. J1. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kishinami, Yukiko (May 3, 2001). "Piano prodigy restores luster to Chopin competition". Daily Yomiuri. p. 1. 
  4. ^ Eatock, Colin (February 13, 2008). "Pianist as pop star. Is Yundi Li better than Lang Lang? He says he doesn't care". Globe and Mail. Canada. p. R1. Retrieved March 30, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Charity show for Shenzhen pianist". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. December 1, 2000. p. 5. 
  6. ^ "Pianist Yundi is back with Deutsche Grammophon", Gramophone, May 4, 2012
  7. ^ "Pianist Li Yundi becomes a Hong Kong resident". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong =January 16, 2007. p. 2. 
  8. ^ "Why Yundi Li Got Cut". Wall Street Journal. November 9, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2016. 
  9. ^ "EMI Classics Signs Chinese Pianist Yundi". LSM Newswire. March 22, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Review: Piano Maestro Li Yundi, Royal Festival Hall". The London Insider. March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 

EMI Classics Signs Chinese Pianist Yundi. LSM Newswire. March 22, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2010.

Review: Piano Maestro Li Yundi, Royal Festival Hall. The London Insider. March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.

Pianist Yundi is back with Deutsche Grammophon, Gramophone, May 4, 2012

"Chinese pianist to join International Chopin Piano Competition’s jury panel]". Global Times.2014-12-2

External links[edit]