Sicklist: Yuja’s out

Sicklist: Yuja’s out


norman lebrecht

May 02, 2018

The pianist Yuja Wang has cancelled Los Angeles, her spiritual home.

LA Phil statement:

Yuja Wang has been forced to postpone her May 8, 2018 recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall due to illness. The performance will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date.

UPDATE: In Portland, Oregon, her recital has been taken over by Kirill Gerstein.


  • Pianofortissimo says:

    No surprise she’s got a cold.

  • Von Schneider says:

    Perhaps if she’d put on a proper piece of clothing – rather than dress like a provocative Bangkok club dancer – she wouldn’t get sick.

    As any self-respecting woman knows (or should know), you dress the way you want to be treated. Somehow in the past 30-40 years, this wisdom seems to have been lost and it is about time that parents re-affirm this verity to their offspring. Frankly, I’m surprised this Wang woman is even allowed onto a classical musical stage dressed this provocatively!

    • John Nemaric says:

      Jawohl, mein Fuhrer!

      • Von Schneider says:

        If you want to argue that dressing in this manner when performing classical music is in good taste, please go right ahead.

        Or are you of the sort who would argue in favor of seeing Yo-Yo Ma perform in a short crop top and a pair of tight-sitting crotch-defining gym shorts?

        Music and attire, in any formal gathering, go hand in hand.

        • HSY says:

          “Argue in favor of seeing Yo-Yo Ma perform in a short crop top and a pair of tight-sitting crotch-defining gym shorts”? What is the point of you arguing about it? Do you fancy yourself having control over what Yo-Yo Ma chooses to wear?

          It’s very simple. If you can’t stand her clothes, don’t go to her concerts. There are other people who like or don’t care about what she wears, people who go to her concerts just to look at what she wears, and people who go despite disliking what she wears. Why do you have the urge to force everyone else to adopt your preference?

          • Von Schneider says:

            You are entirely right – it is indeed very simple: Good taste is not subjective, but is rather bound by objective rules that are not swayed by generational shifts in public sentiment. To use a simple example, consuming spaghetti with one’s hands is in poor taste regardless of how many members of the public might think it is perfectly decent. Of course, people who disagree with her choice of dress may stay at home, but that is entirely beside the point. My argument here is that Wong should be bound by the universal rules of good taste that reign in the classical music world – irrespective of much male or female patrons might rejoice at seeing up her legs.

          • me says:

            ja, Du kannst wenigstens lernen wie man buchstabiert.. is ist WANG, not WONG…

          • HSY says:

            Yeah, good tastes are not subjective but are objective and universal, which just so happen to be my tastes, where I like my performers to be dressed like servants from the 19th century and so should everyone else.

            Such a pity nobody asks you, the arbiter of universal good tastes, to write the rulebook of proper behavior that every solo instrumentalist has to abide by. I’m sure it’s a great loss to humanity.

          • Brettermeier says:

            “My argument here is that Wong should be bound by the universal rules of good taste that reign in the classical music world”

            Let’s talk about Simon Rattle’s hairstyle! Or even better, let’s don’t.

            Btw., if I’d had to choose between a concert with a jute bag wearing soloist and an according to “universal rules of good taste” dressed Lang-Lang, I’d always go for the jute bag. (I don’t want to diminish his role in promoting classical music to a broader audience. I just don’t like his interpretations.)

          • Von Schneider says:

            In reply to HSY: Again, you misunderstand me. I do not claim to have written the ‘universal book of good taste’ myself nor do I want to. My point is that it has already been written and not abiding by it is in poor taste. This has nothing to do with me, but rather with a lack of decorum on the part of Wang.

          • HSY says:

            “My point is that it has already been written”

            And the rules contained within are exactly the same as your personal preferences. What a coincidence!

            If you are going to tell me good tastes are an objective entity and you merely follow the rules, then please define the rules, and tell me with a straight face anyone who does not agree to the rules you just defined has bad taste.

            Your self-aggrandizement is getting silly.

      • Steve says:


    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s only a matter of time before a completely wrapped Western muslem female pianist will play outrageously romantic Rachmaninoff, or excessively pristine Webern.

      • Giles says:

        Although any Muslim woman religious enough to dress like that is likely to regard piano music as “haram”…

        • kaa12840 says:

          Somehow ethnic and racist slurs against Muslims always come out regardless of how inappropriate the context is.

          • Rockette Moreton says:

            Islam is neither a race nor an ethnicity.

          • Giles says:

            If you disagree that many types of music being haram under Islamic law then please enlighten us with your greater understanding. If not, then don’t play the race card in response to a perfectly valid (and accurate) comment; it just looks silly.

        • Sue says:

          Please, what is “haram” and I hope it isn’t catching in the west.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            It means “forbidden”. But there are many flavours of islam, and only some flavours are against music (mainly music as part of religious ceremonies).

            Incidently, some Christian communities have the same restrictions. (Theatre and music was largely forbidden when the roundheads won the English Civil War).

    • Sharon says:

      Wasn’t there a CD cover about 20 years ago of a nude female violinist? Some music store managers felt (at that time) that they could not even display it at the classical music section

    • Sue says:

      Absolutely agree with you. And Wang’s playing has gone off in the last little while. Listen to this “Kreisleriana” – it’s dreadful: what the???

      Technical prowess isn’t an end in itself.

    • Paul Davis says:

      “From the Tailor” himself….i”m not surprose that you’re offended by Yuja’s lack of cloth!
      It doesn’t bother me, i listen, not look!

    • Emil says:

      “As any self-respecting woman knows (or should know), you dress the way you want to be treated.”
      Wow, you seem not judgmental and misogynistic at all.

    • Paul Wyld says:

      Hey, when you can play Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev you can have an opinion about what an artist like Yuja Wang wears you idiot.

    • Allan L. says:

      Where do you get off telling women how to dress?

    • Arthur Rubinstein says:

      The comment by VON SCHNEIDER is devoid of reason and sense. The comment by VON SCHNIEDER is irrational gibberish.

  • Been Here Before says:

    A pianist who is in my eyes as talented and more beautiful than YW recently said: “Sometimes you will give your best and the only result that comes out of that is that you can say ‘I gave it my best’. Nothing more. But hey, that too is life.” Still, one always wonders – Muß es sein?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      If she is not well known, can you disclose the name? She must be a hell of a pianist, and a very beautiful woman (that’s the icing on the cake).

    • buxtehude says:

      Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    How lightly one dresses does not affect the chances of catching a cold. This is a well known myth.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Often these cancellations are a blessing. So an arguably better pianist, Kirill Gerstein, saves the night. And his program sounds more interesting. How refreshing: no ultraminiskirts, no colored socks, no glittery-multicolored dinner jackets. Just music and, presumably, well played and with the seriousness it demands.

    • Rgiarola says:

      I was wondering the same. It’s remind me a recent NYPhi concert that M. Honeck sub in Dudamel for Bruckner. Something that I was wondering if I should go, at the end was top 5 of the year.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “Just music and, presumably, well played and with the seriousness it demands.”

      “Seriousness”. I gifted two tickets to friends for an opera some years back. They were a bit skeptical, but they went nonetheless. Afterwards one of them told me: “I didn’t know opera could be fun!” She, too, expected more seriousness.

    • Karen says:

      If you want to emphasize it’s “just music”, then it doesn’t help to mention your disdain for ultraminiskirts, colored socks, and glittery-multicolored dinner jackets in the same breath. It’s obvious you don’t really believe it’s “just” music.

      Gerstein, as well as many others, dresses this way in an attempt to seek authority, and it works. For example, you are ready to give him credit just because he wears the clothes you like.

      • Fan says:

        Beautifully argued, Karen. You exposed the hypocrisy and idiocy behind a certain kind of concert-goers who ingratiate themselves towards high arts and good tastes but never truly grasp the substance of things.

    • Paul Davis says:

      Let’s not forget that, originally, cancellations were also a blessing for Yuja herself; she reploce Radu Lupu and Martha, which certainly accelerote her career. I’d be surprose if it would have the same effect for the “arguably better…” Gerstein who should count himself lucky to have a career at all after his ghastly, weak inadequate mess of Tchaik 1 at the Proms,(2016?), followed by an unwanted Liszt encore….the loudest, ugliest succession of wrong notes since Florence Foster Jenkins, without the merit of being funny. He may not be as bad as that all the time, but i’d prefer Yuja.
      May she soon recover!

      • Geoff says:

        She was a replacement in Ottawa when I first heard her, it was somewhere around 2006, I think. She performed well and everyone loved her.

  • Midwest Maestro says:

    People, this is Ms. Wang’s schtick. She’s comfortable enough in her own skin, so to speak, to wear whatever she desires. With contemporary orchestras still dressed like Captain von Trapp’s servants, many find her a breath of fresh air (I’m asking for slings and arrows with that one.) Norman, you don’t help anyone by locating and publishing the most provocative photos you can to prove what point?

    • buxtehude says:

      “Captain von Trapp’s servants” — well said.

    • HSY says:

      I’m shocked that Norman Lebrecht, the finest connoisseur of female clothing in the business, avid follower of fashion trends of dresses worn by women musicians, suddenly forgot this picture is from nearly seven years ago. His blog has dozens of valuable updates on what Wang was wearing over the years! Surely the selection of this outdated photo can only be an oversight on the part of the blog owner.

  • Ben says:

    Her right hand is like : “For the people who are sitting in the last rows of the hall, my breasts are here”


    P.S. Whoever still thinks YW is in good taste shall imagine all female players in the orchestra dress like her, while the male players dress like Fabio or Hasselhoff in beach attire. The conductor shall dress in SM-like outfit too. You only care about music, don’t you?

  • Rgiarola says:

    Now she is sick like any other human being, but comments remains about her dress code. This is the real sickness around here.

  • SoD says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how downright disgusting these so called cultural, pseudo-intellectual commenters here are when discussing Ms. Wang and her outfits. For crying out loud: grow up, learn to behave and get over it. I’m seriously unable to understand why people care so much about the way this artist chooses to appear on stage.

  • Edgar says:

    I keep Hans Knappertsbusch in mind, who once has stated orchestra members could come in their swim trunks as far as he was concerned. The context is, of course, the Bayreuth pit. If one is upset by an artist’s attire on a classical stage, I recommend closing the eyes, and not ears and mind.

  • cgs says:

    I like highly skilled exotic dancers. I also like highly skilled classical musicians. Yuja is a WAY better musician than an exotic dancer. I wish she’d decide to be just a musician. I’m looking forward to Kirill Gerstein in Portland on 5/3. And then I’ll go to the Acropolis stripper club afterwards.

  • Sharon says:

    Perhaps she dresses this way because she knows that the controversy will generate some publicity. Generating publicity by deliberately generating controversy is not unknown in the music world.

  • Jaime Weisenblum says:

    I do not think that Yuja really cares one way or another about the way some people have describe her performing attire or her stiletto heels.
    The only reality is her playing,her interpretations and her uncanny talent to deliver performance after performance of the highest caliber in a very varied
    She is a splendid pianist and a remarkable musician on her way to becoming
    one of the most complete musical interpreters EVER.
    The rest as usual are the few naysayers passing as “music experts” and also as “proper costumes etiquette” regulators trying to have their 2 minutes of fame by writing such caustic diatribe.
    To these few poor souls I highly suggest:GET A LIFE and try to enjoy a major artist for her music.
    End of the story!
    Now,let us move on to some really meaningful topic.

    • Geoff says:

      I have just look at her concert schedule, it must be the most performances in the next twelve months by any artist. Stay healthy! Miss Wang.

  • Will Duffay says:

    Extraordinary amount of lazy misogyny here from my fellow men. How very disappointing, but not surprising. It’s sad how Yuja Wang’s appearance seems to excite a grubby mixture of hate and scorn from a small number of frustrated males. Meanwhile, she successively goes about her business of playing the piano very well and making audiences happy. Men: deal with it.

    • Geoff says:


    • Von Schneider says:

      Where do you get ‘misogyny’ from? I don’t think you comprehend the crux of my argument at all. Please understand that sartorial good taste applies to men just as much as it applies to women. We are not applying double standards here at all.

      To reiterate, you dress the way you want to be treated and many members of the classical music loving public would find the above outfit far too provocative and sexualized to adorn a stage. Simply put, it is in remarkably poor taste.

      Of course, perhaps it would be asking too much to expect a women born and raised in Beijing to grasp the sensibilities of high society in the developed world. Regardless, it is altogether mystifying that a Westerner has not gently let her know over the years that wearing skimpy club dresses when performing classical music in major venues in front of respectable crowds is rather boorish.

      • Paul Davis says:

        Well, Mr. “Tailor,” i certainly don’t dress “the way (i) want to be treated…” but for my own comfort and practicality. However, it could be argued that Yuja has neither comfort nor practicality in her choice; hi-heels are stupid in ANY situation, above all for pianists and cellists, her selection of skirts mostly don’t suit her evolving body shape, (all this my personal opinion, of course)….but none of this should matter if you love music! I have a horror and contempt for the traditional “smart” concert attire, an allergy for suits and ties, for instance, and i’m happy that these ghastly constricting garments are gradually being reploce by open-neck or Chinese (!!) collars and similar “smart/casual” dress. But if i concentrote solely on the importance of the visual, most of my adored classic performers/performances would be cancelled out. If you value music, the dress shouldn’t matter so much.
        Another example: my personal favorite among pianists was a hideously ugly man, nothing could improve his looks, not makeup, heels, wigs, lifting…..better he should play behind a screen. But did any of this matter to me? No, let the music speak. You may not like Yuja for any number of musical reasons, fair enough. But to attack her for her dress sense makes no sense!
        Cultivate your ears more, not your eyes.

      • Fan says:

        Your “respected Westerners” from the high society of Berlin were gathering one night last month in Staatsoper Unter den Linden applauding ferociously a performance of Verdi’s Falstaff with singers in (in my view unnecessary) leather, rubber and other S/M fetish gears. Don’t believe it? I have photos to prove it. The musical performance, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, by the way, was magnificent. I don’t care for the staging and costumes myself – I mention it only to prove that you are either lying through your teeth or your classical music experience was probably acquired in front of your VHS player. Oh, by the way, nothing prevents a person born in Berlin, London or even Vienna got no good taste. I’ve been to all these cities and I guarantee there are local riffraff. The way you frame your thinking shows you might be one of them. Meanwhile, however difficult for you to understand, nothing prevents a Chinese person from having good taste, either by birth or by efforts,.

        • Paul Davis says:

          Well observed, sir. I found the most elegantly dressed and behaved women in Beijing and other major cities in China, something that Yuja inherited and applied in the earlier part of her career. It’s mostly due to shallow Western influence that she’s taken on an extreme form of dress- it doesn’t upset me; i listen, not look.
          As for Chinese culture and tradition, it’s centuries older than anything European. And taste; i remember, many years ago being invited, with musical friends, to the London house of a distinguished pianist of an older generation, Fou Ts’ong. This was a revelation of a natural artistic sense, a rich heritage, modestly displayed, putting to shame many equivalent English homes. You are quite right to correct this uninformed, schneider….sorry, snide comment!

      • Paul Davis says:

        Well, Mr. Tailor, once again you’re not very coherent. Yuja arrives from Beijing, and, following her studies commences an extraordinarily successful career, wearing……..(Wait For it…!), long dresses and elegant robes, (see her earlier videos to prove this), ie. the dress sense that a good Chinese family would expect. A few years of exposure, (!)- to your Superior Western Culture….and what do we have: accusations of poor taste, slutty attire, “prostitute,” nite-club artits; (etc etc…). So where, (or wear…?) does this influence come from? Is it just possible that this “woman born and raised in Beijing…” has finally been able “to grasp the sensibilities of high society in the developed world?” It seems your “mystifying” Westerner may have slipped her the wong, (oops!) advice.
        You really have it the wong way round: Chinese civilisation, fine taste and philosophy predates yours by millenia.

  • buxtehude says:

    She’ll wear what she wants. So will Karina Gauvin (from 18:36)

    Listen. It’ll be fine.

  • muslit says:

    No one is going to miss her playing. Maybe her outfits.

  • Robert Hairgrove says:

    Anyone who insists on saying that she is only famous for the way she dresses and not for her piano interpretations should listen to this:

    This clip would do credit to a great many adult professional pianists (no matter how they are dressed)!

  • art stevens says:

    That is such an ill bred thing to say. She’s a beautiful young woman at the height of her youth and beauty. She wears some of the most gorgeous gowns on earth. She sells out at Carnegie Hall in five minutes. She intersperses her downs with beautiful mini skirts that she knows how to wear and can wear beautifully. She is a show person with the spirit of show business along with her musicianship. Your comment belies a pettiness that is not shared by an authentic patron of the arts. She is brilliant and vivacious. What a combo to have.

  • Tony D says:

    Do we have a date for her rescheduled recital yet? I don’t care what she wears, I just don’t want to miss her!