Tragedy: Chinese PhD student is killed by Arizona truck

Tragedy: Chinese PhD student is killed by Arizona truck


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2017

From Baruch Meir, associate professor of piano at Arizona State University:

R.I.P Xiaoying Wen (1989-2017)

It is with deep pain and sadness that I separate from Xiaoying Wen, my student, friend, colleague and a gifted artist. Xiaoying was taken away from us on November 16, 2017. He was hit by a pick-up truck while riding his bicycle at a crosswalk. He was pronounced dead at the hospital’s ICU a few hours later. Xiaoying was only twenty-eight years old and had a bright future ahead. A life cut short. A senseless death.

While being one of the most talented people I have ever encountered, Xiaoying was also very humble. He was a bright light among us and embraced life to the fullest. Anyone who knew Xiaoying could see his gentle soul, and his playfulness. He was really wonderful with children including my Zohar. He had a special generosity about him, a true kindness and a positive spirit.

Xiaoying was so devoted and passionate about his music and art. In recent years, Xiaoying developed a special affinity to Scriabin’s music. I gave him his first Scriabin’s piece, the Vers La Flamme and he soon developed a passion for the music in all of its eccentricities and the uniqueness of its colors. Perhaps it was the real fire in the music, that sensuous spark that is so rooted in it, that he so easily related to. I have never heard better climactic moments than in Xiaoying’s performances. Soon after, he tackled the 5th sonata and played it with such exquisite sensitivity and strong personal verve. He gave fantastic performance of it at Schlern festival 2016 and at his second DMA recital last March. The 10th sonata was his next project and he already memorized it quickly for his next recital together with Medtner’s fairy tales, and the Barber sonata. I was so looking forward to his next recital. His ecstatic and triumphant Vers La Flamme will stay with me forever.

The slide show I created following Xiaoying’s passing is celebrating his life. I gathered it with the help of many of our students at ASU who sent me photos and quotes about him. He was so loved and admired by everyone and he loved back.

I miss you dear friend. Farewell Xiaoying. You are in my heart forever!


  • Brian says:

    Xiaoying was my son’s teacher and beside being very talented he was genuinely a great person to know, that would teach much more that piano, but would teach life lessons.

  • Michael Klotz says:

    This is so incredibly sad. Just tragic.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Heartbreaking…. obviously a real talent. The gods don’t want their favorites stay too long on earth.

  • Bob Uda says:

    I did not know Xiaoying. However, after viewing/listening to the presentation, I felt his spirit. What a huge loss to society. With his musical talents and passing his PhD comprehensive exams, he was well on his way to tremendous accomplishments and contributions to society at least for the next half century. All of that potential cut short because of a traffic accident. Now, we will never know the greatness he would have achieved over the next half century. His dear parents and other family members must be devastated. I express my deepest condolences to all of them as well as his close friends. R.I.P., Dr. Xiaoying and piano extraordinaire. From Dr. Bob Uda (76th year of age).

  • Fake says:

    Hey, I read the news from somewhere else. The news said that the truck driver is not cited. As xiaoyang is going straight and the truck is turning left. I have no clue how the truck driver has no duty. I strongly doubt if the truck driver is speeding o/w how he could kill a pedestrian in a left turn. In addition, since xiaoyang is going straight, should he has the right of way? Or he just bike blindly into the truck? If the truck driver reach the intersection first, xiaoyang should saw or at least hear the sound. I didn’t see and video records or so but I’m really curious how this could happen.