Lang Lang: Piano Forte

The World-Renowned Musician Shares His Love of Liszt, Fashion and Performing in Rivers

Chinese classical megastar Lang Lang has achieved a level of popularity usually only reserved for Hollywood greats and rock legends with his uniquely flamboyant and breathtakingly virtuosic style. Visiting up to four continents a month on a relentless touring schedule, topping charts around the world each week, and having played to an audience of five billion when he opened the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, it's little wonder that the pianist’s hands are insured for a seven-figure sum. Facing a tough upbringing in the poor industrial heart of northern China, Lang Lang began playing the piano at the precocious age of three and a half, taking lessons that cost his parents half their yearly wages. Now the first pianist in history to have a Steinway piano named after him, the 29-year-old year old Lang Lang has been celebrating the 200th anniversary of his hero and fellow piano megastar Franz Liszt with a series of performances and releases.

You've been performing a lot of Liszt during this anniversary year. He's famous for his piano pyrotechnics. What are his most dazzlingly challenging pieces?
I find some of his slow pieces even more difficult than the fast pieces, not in terms of technique, but because you need more control and imagination.

How many hours a day do you practice?
From one to two hours a day to six or seven. It depends on my schedule.

What's the exercise regime for a top pianist?
Calm yourself down. Treat yourself like a normal person. And focus on the music.

Where's the oddest place you've had to do a concert?
On the Yellow River in Hukou, China. They put a piano on a rock in the middle of the river. It was very impressive.

You're famous for wearing very snazzy clothes. Do you keep a close check on your wardrobe?
Fashion is the theme of the world. I love following fashion trends.

Do you have a favorite fashion designer?
Many designers are great, especially Armani and Calvin Klein.

Your hero, Liszt, was quite a social animal. He loved women and dancing. Do you do a lot of partying?
I don’t have time for that. He was the rock star of his time. I’m not on that level yet.

If you weren't a pianist, what would you be?
Maybe a talk show host.

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