Lang Lang’s thought for the day

Lang Lang’s thought for the day


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2018

“Being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

From the sidelined pianist’s social media. (Did Emerson have facials?)


  • JoBe says:


    • Max Grimm says:

      Yes, ‘sidelines’ as in the space immediately outside either sideline of a playing field where non-players, injured players, substitutes etc. sit, waiting to heal or to be cycled in for another player on the field.
      In LL’s case he has been ‘sidelined by tendonitis’ in his left forearm for quite some time now, I believe.

      • JoBe says:

        Thank you. So, he has not been banned (red-carded) for tantrums à la Kathleen Battle?

        • Petros Linardos says:

          There has been no shortage of criticism for Lang Lang’s musicianship or marketing gimmicks, but I’ve never heard anything about tantrums or unprofessional behavior. Am I wrong?

        • Max Grimm says:

          While I don’t follow LL, I have to agree with Petros. I’ve heard a lot of criticism regarding LL’s musicianship and his commercial endeavours but I’ve never heard of him throwing tantrums or having an unprofessional attitude.
          From what I gather, he’s had problems with the tendons in his left arm/hand before and at the time didn’t heed his doctor’s advice about taking more time to heal and scaling back his performance schedule. So now it appears that either the problem has resurfaced with force or he is taking his doctor’s advice more seriously this time round (or both).

  • Mark says:

    Perhaps if this clown actually read Emerson, instead of using some online collection of quotes, he would have known that this is an egregious misquote. Here is this line in the proper context:
    “I am not ignorant,—I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared “that the sense of being perfectly well dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquillity which religion is powerless to bestow.” Thus much for manners: but we are not content with pantomime; we say, this is only for the eyes. We want real relations of the mind and the heart ; we want friendship; we want knowledge; we want virtue; a more inward existence to read the history of each other.”
    (From the “Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson”, George Bell & Sons, 1904, Vol. III, p. 228)

    • HSY says:

      Ha! This is quite funny. But it’s not as egregious as the recent misquote at Barbara Bush’s funeral where the pastor said her favorite book was Pride and Prejudice, and then to stress her love of books quoted: “How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!”

      And here is the context:

      “Miss Bingley’s attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, “How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

      No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest for some amusement…”

      Maybe the pastor was deliberate. I don’t know.

  • Caravaggio says:

    “Being scantily dressed gives a feeling of liberty that practice is powerless to bestow.”

    Or whatever. LOL.

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Confucius say: the wise man shares his umbrella with the just and unjust when rain comes down, except misquoting musicians who sold their soul to the ephemeral winds.” To-Fu, 11th century.

    • anon says:

      selling one’s soul is a western, christian concept.

      • John Borstlap says:

        According to the I Ching, Chinese people who sell out to Western values sell their soul. Hexagram 4, Meng, ‘Youth Foolishness’, ‘Don’t take a girl that does not know to restrain herself at the sight of a jianpan’ (keyboard). Source: the translation from the Chinese by Richard Wilhelm in the twenties of the last century.

        • Sue says:

          Those same Chinese “who sell out to western values”? This is the place for classical music in perpetuity, like it or not. Without Asians audiences would be DRASTICALLY reduced for serious music. Fact.
          And ‘selling out’ has meant literally tens of millions of Chinese lifted out of poverty. But, that’s OK as long as you’re nice and comfy in your own home and you pride yourself on the absence of racism!!

          • John Borstlap says:

            But I did not say I agreed with it. I only quoted To-Fu and the I Ching.

            I think as far as Western classical music is concerned, it is China who is saving it from the West, for the time being – and I mean this without any irony. It is deeply shameful that there is so much critique upon Western classical music in the West itself, where it is under attack from populism and an entirely misconceived egalitarian world view where it is considered ‘elitist’ and ‘no longer relevant’ for modern times. That China is capable of absorbing Western classical music and making so many contributions to it, is holding up a mirror to the decadence of the West and its loosing contact with its own cultural roots. It seems to me that under the surface of an egalitarian social system, the old Chinese cultural traditions are still alive, and they recognize in Western classical music some universal humanist values which can also be found in China’s own culture, which probably will survive any social system.

        • Lang Lang Perfume Line says:

          It is well-known that Chinese people buy a damn lot more than they sell. Just ask that lady at the Coach bag store.

  • Sharon says:

    Although I really enjoy this blog because most of the bloggers are intelligent, comments are seldom repeated without adding something intelligent, and the subject is generally relatively “light” as opposed to blogging about foreign affairs and public policy, I am not (yet) into classical music.

    I just do not know enough about it which is part of the reason that I read Slipped Disc.

    Unlike popular music, especially rock and dance music, which is visceral enough just to just enjoy “the beat”, classical music requires a certain amount of aesthetic appreciation, that is, knowledge about it, and exposure to it to be enjoyed. There is a also a certain spiritual element to it as well although I do not fully understand the connection.

    The fact that some Asians are willing to take the time to appreciate western classical music is to their credit. Perhaps because it is not part of their history that they have fewer hangups about how elitist it is.

    In addition, especially with regard to the Mainland Chinese, I have noted, at least with those I know, that where religion does not exist, because it was suppressed, superstition takes its place. This was true in the former Soviet Union as well where a strong interest developed in para psychology.

    I wonder if, to a certain extent, classical music in a secular context, at least for some Asians, and perhaps westerners as well, kind of takes the place of religion.

    • Lang Lang Perfume Line says:

      I do agree that appreciation of classical music in some Asian cultures (mostly Japan) is ingrained into the education system and there’s real and genuine appreciation of music, but this is rare. In Tokyo you can find the best classical CD store in the world. Yes, people still buy a lot of CDs in Japan. Same in Seoul, S. Korea. However, Asians, especially immigrants, have used classical music as a type of assimilation and social climbing. For one true connoisseur, there are ten tiger moms who push their suffering children to play the piano or violin for social advancement. Tiger moms love Classical music not because they truly appreciate it, they love it for elitist and snobbish appeal. Luckily for a lot of orchestras around the world, some of these suffering kids actually love music and are actually good at what they do.

      • Sharon says:

        Tiger moms push classical music because it teaches discipline and keeps kids out of trouble.

        However, shoving classical music down the throat of an unwilling kid is a sure way to raise a classical music hater

        • Lang Lang Perfume Line says:

          And it looks good on your high school transcript to get into an IV school. Not to mention bragging rights when you go to church and have to show face in front of other tigresses.

  • Ben says:

    Perhaps Lang “Bang” Lang should quote Newton’s Third Law and Conservation of Momentum instead.

  • Sue says:

    @John Borstlap:

    On this we absolutely agree!! I always say to those (few) who denounce western art music, “well, I won’t have to compete with you for tickets”!

  • Pacer1 says:

    Ah, where would Slipped Disc be without providing its morning readers the opportunity for character assassination, racial stereotyping and armchair philosophy. Well done chaps. Classical music is safe in your hands.

    • anon says:

      And they are still very confident that they are vastly morally superior to hip-hop listeners.

      Go figure.

      • Lang Lang Perfume Line says:

        Nor morally superior. Just sartorially superior. We can function with our pants at waist level without exposing our underwear. I exclude Yuja Wang of course.