Who taught the Chinese to love the piano? Not Lang Lang…

Who taught the Chinese to love the piano? Not Lang Lang…


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2015

It appears the first keyboard instrument was brought to China on January 24, 1601 by an Italian Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci. ‘Musical instruments are quite common and of many varieties,’ he noted, ‘but the use of the organ and the clavichord (pictured) is unknown, and the Chinese possess no instrument of the keyboard type.’

Fascinating article here by Sheila Melvin.



  • Minutewaltz says:

    I’m not sure why Sipped Disc is always sniping at Lang Lang. If he is such an unmusical pianist why are conductors such as Simon Rattle and Christoph Eschenbach so happy to work with him.
    He’s helped many young pianists through his charitable foundation, has inspired millions from all over the world to learn piano, he’s a thoroughly likeable fellow (and is also utterly gorgeous).

    • V.Lind says:

      He’s on the hit list. He can do no right in this quarter.

      • Milka says:

        He did start off as a quite interesting pianist but then discovered he was Lang Lang and
        could get away with whatever he does just as the 3 tenors did with their shtick pretending
        they where bringing music to the masses when it was all $$$.He has nothing to do
        with music as an art form as the 3 dreadfuls had nothing to do with music except make
        money but somehow the so called critics found it all delightful and amusing fun time,
        somehow for Lang Lang they don,t find his excesses tolerable in the same way,
        perhaps the reason is he is so good at it and making $$ hand over fist .

  • Respect says:

    Is having Eschenbach as your backer indicative of great artistry at the keyboard? Managements hire him because he sells. Most conductors love fully sold houses. This doesn’t strike one as a complex formulation. Andre Watts appeared with most great conductors and orchestras yearly for two decades…..

  • Nick says:

    Anyone remotely interested how western classical music has evolved in China really should read the excellent “Rhapsody in Red” by Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai (Algora Publishing New York). They illustrate how the biggest influence in developing the fledgling classical music ensembles was from the west. Then in the 1950w the Soviets took over building not only orchestras but also ballet and opera companies, all encouraged by Mao’s lieutenant Zhou Enlai. Almost all the major figures in China who then returned to take over the training of the next generation of Chinese musicians studied in Russia and Eastern Europe.