Yuja Wang cuts back again on clothing budget

Yuja Wang cuts back again on clothing budget


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2017

At her skimpiest yet, she plays Tchaikovsky with the National Youth Orchestra of China, conducted by Ludovic Morlot.

Fabulous playing.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    Great player indeed. But what next? A bikini? A thong? I’d suggest she give it a break and turn attention away from her and her threads of outfits and unto her music making. Will she ever plow the depths? I have doubts she ever will.

    P.S.: Bracing for the sexism accusations ……

    • John says:

      Don’t worry. You’re a known quantity.

      Heard her a few years ago in recital complete with a beautiful outfit that showed plenty. Verdict? Amazing artist with deep musical insights. That’s all that mattered to me.

      • Sue says:

        She may be an exhibitionist as well as a fine pianist. It’s very possible to be both and it’s certainly shaping up that way.

    • Og says:

      All good, if that playing remains

    • Macanucair says:

      Pity she didn’t read the washing instructions for the dress.

  • Fran says:

    Seriously incredible playing. Sit and judge as you wish. The audience didn’t seem particularly bothered. If she plays like that she can wear a bikini or a bin bag or tea bags if she so wishes.

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    You misunderstand her reason for wearing this dress. After reading Otto Ortmann’s 1929 book “The Physiological Mechanics of Piano Technique” Ms. Wang was showing the proper use of the muscles in the back which seem totally relaxed even as she attacks the fearsome octave passages. Where does she get the power to play like that? From those high heels, undoubtedly!

    • John Borstlap says:

      According to a medical and musical research team at the Texas Institute for Technology, it is to be advised that also male pianists should follow Wang’s dress codes, as to offer the best possible physical condition for piano playing. As Dr Wallthrop, leader of the team at TIT, explained: ‘Conventional attitudes to concert dress codes should be overcome and any discomfort on seeing piano playing males with Wang-type outfits be considered worthwhile sacrifices to the meaning of high art.’ His collegue Dr Horck added: ‘It’s about finding the appropriate place of high heels within the context of high art’.

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        Many thanks for your in-depth analysis. And thanks also to the researchers in Texas.

      • Anmarie says:

        I look forward to Sokolov, along with Babayan and Trifonov, dressed per TIT guidelines. Surely, it will be improve their playing.

        • Sue says:

          The only one of those 3 I’d like to see dressed that way would be The Triff. The others; not so much.

          • Jenny Q Chai says:

            I’m just here to say I find the comments utterly amusing and thank you all for bringing such enthusiasm and humor to the realm of classical music. We all need it 🙂


    Yuja Wang is an extraordinary pianist. She has attained great musical heights while performing with all types of clothing. She could play in the nude or inside of King Arthur’s armor and would still produce scintillating interpretations. Please, leave the sartorial considerations to the fashion journalists.

    Francis Schwartz

  • John says:

    On the other hand, I’m glad that John Ogden didn’t appear in male attire similar to Yuja’s.

  • Steinway Fanatic says:

    She was performing with a youth orchestra, and was dressed like a dominatrix. I was in the 7th row, and when she sat down, her “loin cloth” rode up to her hips, exposing more legs than a bucket of chicken – to the delight of the adolescent males in the orchestra, which no doubt caused their frequent bloopers. Great playing from Yuja, but her hooker outfit was inappropriate and disgusting.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The risk of bloopers was, in former, more civilized, authoritarian, and perfectionist times, the reason that orchestras were composed entirely of males.

    • V. Lind says:

      Oh, grow up. She’s a young artist with a great figure and can carry off this sort of thing these days.

      There is far too much concentration on the superficial in these posts. She did one of the best Prokofiev Seconds I have ever heard when she was about 19 — I could not believe such a little thing, and such a young one, could so plumb the depths of the piece and deliver its power so effectively. She also did one of the most enchanting Trouts I have heard, with the Zukerman Chamber Players.

      Prudes who get “disgusted” are not fit to be out among serious and sophisticated people who come to see a performance.

      • Andy says:

        She is a wonderful pianist V Lind, wonderful. In terms of clothing though, would you a draw a line anywhere?

    • Steve P says:

      “More legs than a bucket of chicken.”
      Well played, sir.
      But she is an attractive young woman and wants to show off her physique while playing. No law against it.

      • Steinway Fanatic says:

        Physique is one thing, but private parts are another. This was a youth concert with a youth orchestra, and many children in the audience. Yes, Yuja’s a hottie with all the goods, but it was irresponsible of her to display them at this particular event. Adults have a duty to be role models for the young – and she’s setting a poor example for those kids.

        • Cyril Blair says:

          I’m sure her “private parts” were not exposed to anyone. I’m sure she was wearing underwear with a dress this short. You’ve said you were in the 7th row, rather than underneath the piano, so you saw no “private parts” nor did the orchestra players unless some of them had slid under the piano.

        • John says:

          Oh, get over yourself

  • Brian says:

    Look at Beyonce’s concert garb: http://www.linkupradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/beyonce-concert-06.jpg

    Or Katy Perry’s (pre-makeover): https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/dd/01/01/dd0101813c021183288f6ae2bb0a8cdb.jpg

    Or any number of younger stars. Wang’s outfits are rather conservative by popular standards (and yes, piano recitals were once considered “pop music” too).

    • Andy says:

      That’s true Brian, but many modern ‘pop-stars’ are terrible musicians so they don’t have a lot else to offer other than writhing around half-dressed. That’s not true of Yuja Wang, so I’m not sure the comparison works.

      • John says:

        Pop stars are terrible musicians.

        Sniff . . . . sniff . . . . sniff . . . .

        Andy, keep looking away to protect your virtue.

    • André Weiss says:

      Fantastic point. Who cares what she wears as long as she sounds great? This whole idea of the demure performer receding into the background in order to channel the spirits of the old dead composer men is a load of bull. Why not stick out a bit?

    • Albert Combrink says:

      Thank you !

  • John says:

    That goes well beyond her usual slutty outfits. How far will she go?

    • Sue says:

      I absolutely agree and I’ve been a supporter of her wardrobe in the past. I’m calling her Lang Wang now.

  • Rosanne Goldman says:

    Not attractive nor appropriate at any time, except for the beach perhaps. Besides, I do not appreciate seeing anyone’s naked armpits! She is obviously trying to stand out. There are so many good pianists out there!

    • John says:

      Try closing your eyes and concentrating on the sounds. After all, this is about the music, isn’t it?

  • john humphreys says:

    Play naked – why not? Either shut or open your eyes to augment/diminish the musical experience.

  • Romain Viguier says:

    Don’t let me go…..

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    Surely the point is, that appearance should only be a background consideration and not distract from the music? She is obviously being deliberately provocative, which doesn’t say a lot about her maturity outside of her musical experience. Orchestral players and soloists have a wide range of clothing to choose from, it doesn’t have to be stuffy and formal. But it should be decent.

    • Bruce says:

      Orchestral players do not, in fact, have a wide range of clothing options to choose from. We must conform to our orchestras’ dress codes, which have very specific requirements (and are often extremely specific for men).

      • Zelda Macnamara says:

        Sorry, what I should have said is that orchestral players SHOULD have a wider range of clothing to choose from – I have been at concerts where the orchestra were informally dressed and I would like that to be an option more frequently, if the players wish it.

  • Edgar says:

    To paraphrase Kna: she could come onstage baked or in a gown with a mile long train, I don’t care. Does Yuja gainfully employ a piano tuner who is at the same time her fashion dedigner/tailor, I wonder? It would be a quite lucrative profession.

    • Edgar says:

      Naked. Typo. Baked would be detrimental to playing the piano.

    • John Borstlap says:

      This is historic: in Amsterdam, in the eighties, Yvonne Loriod played the piano in a première of her husband in the Concertgebouw, with a very long train in bright rainbow colours connected to her shoulders. This was not to express support to Amsterdam’s multigender culture, but to underline the instrumentation of the piece which was for pianistic birds and (reduced) orchestra. Added to this was a towering black hairdo and coloured spotlights in the hall itself, so the piece almost became superfluous.

  • Yolanda Salapata says:

    Talent in piano playing has nothing to do with personality…disorders..

  • Peter says:

    Budget reduction… a clear case of “less is more” I think. The skimpier the gown the larger the price tag!

  • Una says:

    All bx!

  • M2N2K says:

    It is not my business to “draw a line” for another person’s clothing. I may like it or not, but that would be my personal subjective opinion, nothing more. For a performing musician, in any case, clothes would be not secondary but a far less important consideration, way down on the list of criteria. First and second would be quality of playing and choice of repertoire. Then, a huge distance behind, would come visual aspect, only one component of which is the artist’s outfit.

  • Albert says:

    > Amazing artist with deep musical insights.


  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    I wonder what this august group contributing above thinks about the conducting in this brief excerpt. Yuja appears to play the passages without excessive rubato yet the conductor appears to struggle and the youth orchestra does make little ensemble messes.

    She has worked with Abbado, Mehta, Dudamel, Duthoit, Nezet-Seguin, Janssons, MTT and many others who seem to exert much less effort in order to follow her. She also appears to actually look at the conductor at critical moments. M. Morlot appears over-matched. The look on his face during the last note is priceless (The Joy of Music?) Your thoughts?

  • John says:

    I wonder if any topic elicits more reaction among the ‘sniffier’ set of Mr. Lebrecht’s collection of classical music snobs than Ms. Wang’s hemline. To them I say put on your earphones, pull out your favorite 78 RPMs of Clifford Curzon or Arthur Schnabel to sooth your wounded sensibilities, and save yourself from the state of high dudgeon that Ms. Wang’s duds seem to put you into. She plays to sold out houses everywhere she goes, and I daresay it’s because of her musical attributes that people pay top dollar. Pornography is everywhere and I’ve read that most of it is free. Ms. Wang’s talent as a serious artist, is quite rare however, and speaking for myself, I’ll continue going out of my way to experience that.

  • Ben says:

    To her wardrobe supporters: Do you still remember your dad’s last name when she’s taking her signature 90 degrees bow toward you?

    To the people who claim her music matters before her provocative dress code, that you don’t care about how she dress as long as she’s great: Why not ask your own mom, own wife, own daughter to dress like her?

    To Yuja: A little Chinese proverb refresher for you. “先敬羅衣後敬人” (Translation: “People respect your clothing first before respecting you”)

    To the orchestra musicians who played with her on stage: Yes I agree, she tends to dress like a whxre.

    • Anmarie says:

      Thanks for the wonderful quote. So apt for the situation.

    • John says:


    • ANON says:

      The Chinese proverb is merely an observation how people tend to judge others and especially their social classes by their clothing. It does not have a positive connotation and is in fact quite often used to criticize people who judge by looks. For example, the proverb can be used when responding to comments like yours.

      • John Borstlap says:

        As the old Chinese philosopher To Fu said: ‘Women’s clothes should be judged from the inside, like their personalities.’ (8th century)

    • M2N2K says:

      If you think that your non-arguments justify your concluding misspelled “non-insult”, you are badly mistaken.

    • Fan says:

      ANON is right. The ( Cantonese?) proverb most likely refers to ‘judge people solely by their appearance’, and that’s exactly what is happening here.

  • Webster Young says:

    It’s simple, however great a pianist she is, she can be seen as using the “sex can sell anything ” approach. But she doesn’t need to do that, especially now. The sex can sell anything approach is always a distraction from something else. In this case, for many, it will distract from her playing and her respect for music and its meaning. Do you play a piece about sacred things dressed as sexy as you can be? Maybe, if the God is Venus. But for many, this kind of practice will always be a distraction.

    • John says:

      A distraction? Not, apparently, for the sold-out houses who flock to hear her perform. But Webster, you really are doing yourself a service to stay home if she’s ever in your town.

      Yuja’s own words? “It’s just natural for me. I am 26 years old so I dress for 26. I can dress in long skirts when I am 40. Anyway I have many different styles, I don’t only wear short. I don’t understand why I have to explain this, I just do what is natural for me.”

  • John says:

    For all the puritans, here’s Myra Hess, cigarette in mouth, at the keyboard. Kind of a cabaret vibe, I’d say.


  • LRT says:

    I’m yet to understand how this article is at all newsworthy? Your obsession with her clothing is bizarre at best and almost perverted at worst.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      We do not choose her clothing: she does. The manner in which an artist presents on stage is a legitimate matter for public comment.

      • André Weiss says:

        That makes sense. “Matters for public comment” can be prurient. It takes two to be scandalized.

  • Macanucaire says:

    Must get my dirty mac from the cleaners for her next concert.

  • Johan says:

    I am appalled by all these almost aggressive and negative comments. What exactly is wrong with an artist dressing in a way that expresses herself and her musical/human identity? The idea that it distracts from the music is the usual mistake of assuming instrumental music has no connection to life beyond the score. I believe her playing simply is enhanced by her gorgeous dresses, almost like an operatic character, and she should be praised for being one of the best dressed classical musicians on the planet!

  • Michael Lewandowski says:

    I care as much about what she wears as I do what the conductor is wearing, and the ticket taker for that matter.