Rare video: Lang Lang at 10 years old

This 1992 French documentary has come to light.

lang lang, age 10

‘I was not a very open person when I was a kid. I was kind of shy and not really connected to people.’

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  • “Mon objectif c’est d’être le meilleur du monde.”

    “Quoique je fasse, je veux être le premier.”

    “Si je veux être le meilleur du monde, c’est pour être honoré.”

    Hmm. I won’t say what I think about the goals of the “10”-year-old LL. But I’m thinking so loudly what I’m thinking, that you don’t have to be psychic to hear my thoughts!

    BTW, the announcer specifically said that LL was *12* years old (not 10). That’s curious if indeed LL was born in 1982 (as online sites proclaim) and the documentary dates from 1992. Or is his publicized birth year a fabrication?

  • Quite revealing. LL certainly fulfilled his juvenile ambitions – from his own perspective. And still, it is never about the music, but about his ego. A good example of what a performer should NOT be.

    • Agreed. But this is just a sign of the times we live in; everything is now about ego. That’s why we no longer produce any significant thinkers, writers, musicians, artists, or composers. In the past creation was the result of an inner need, a feeling of being compelled to create; today the only thing that matters is being visible, famous, and making a lot of money. Though these have always been human passions, they have become exponentially worse since the advent of the internet. That’s perhaps why anybody today, regardless of competence or craft, can attain widespread visibility and claim themselves to be an artist or an authority on any matter, since any “work” can be easily disseminated worldwide at the mere click of a mouse.

      • My biggest fear for the next yen years is that traditions of sound and how to produce sound are being exchanged for image, marketability of the ‘brand’ and the physical aspects of playing.

        • Isn’t that already happening? I suppose marketable artists always had it easier. But over the fourty or so years I have been following classical music, I see the balance between talent and marketability continuously change, in the wrong direction. What career prospects would someone with Shura Cherkassky’s talent AND physique have today?

          • Interesting that you mention Shura Cherkassky’s career prospects – because even in his day he had a horrible time of it. After his child-prodigy years, his American career tanked, and the only place he caught on was in Scandinavia. But then he had to return to the US at the outbreak of WW2, where he lived in virtual poverty in Los Angeles for 7 years, after getting bad reviews for the few concerts that he did play – critics dissed his Hoffman-inspired playing as passé. He returned to Scandinavia after the war, and eventually managed to eke out a living in Europe, but he was well into his 50’s before his career took hold. And it wasn’t until the 1980’s that America finally embraced him.

          • @LaVerita: You are right about Cherkassky’s setback in the USA. Maybe I didn’t pick up the best example. No doubt he became a legend only in the 80s and 90s, but had a respectable career in Europe after World War II, i.e. from his 30s on. I still think that his career path was more associated with interpretive fashions than with his appearance.

      • He said more than once that he wanted to be “the best.” That is 1) very Chinese and 2) very typical of driven children of 10 or 12, whether at he piano, ballet, golf, whatever. Particularly in a media age. And he said that if he was the best, the honour would come. R_That strikes me as quite laudable as a philosophy, and quite profound from a kid.

  • Undoubtedly, a concert career for an artist is a gruelling and mostly thankless one – I would think. I like Lang Lang and he appeals to young people who would otherwise never come near art music with a barge pole. It looks like the Asian nations are where music will continue in perpetuity. I’m personally grateful for that because the idea that a cultural tradition and its music will slowly ebb and fade away is of huge concern to me. There are younger audiences but can governments continue to support the kind of infrastructure needed to support the performing arts? I think not.

    • Governments could, but they don’t want, because culture has stopped to be a symbol of national identity and they have to worry about the next election. An unfortunate byproduct of freedom and democracy which has given voice to the masses in the cultural field, and they don’t like the idea that there could be elites that work for everybody but just a bit better than them.

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