Yuja Wang: My parents don’t understand me

Yuja Wang: My parents don’t understand me


norman lebrecht

July 15, 2019

In a pre-Proms interview of stupefying superficiality, the pianist lets drop a fragment of credible personal history:

Her parents, she says, “have no clue what I’m doing. They say, ‘Come back, why don’t you be a teacher in the conservatory?’ They are supportive but naive.”

Perhaps the incomprehension works both ways.

Yuja is so good at playing the media game, though, that this might just be another provocation.

Full interview here.


  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Is this the same “Times” in which Richard Morrison decried the “Guardian” for dumbing down? Goose and Gander?

  • YS says:

    Not surprising at all. Her comments are as provocative as her unbelievable disgusting way, she chooses her clothes.

    Just trying to get all attention posdible and behaving like a stubborn 4 yr old child…

    • John Sorel says:

      How is the weather in Salt Lake City?

    • Jan Kaznowski says:

      ==Just trying to get all attention possible

      But she doesn’t need to do this nonsense. She’s an amazing player. I heard her play the 3 Brahms violin sonatas with Kavakos and she’s really in the front rank of ‘proper’ music (not just the warhorse Russian concertos)

      • SM says:

        I should know better than to argue about something so subjective, but I want to add that I don’t take issue with her choice of clothing. My issue is with her level of fame, and of course, I’m no authority on this matter, and perhaps, no one is, one could argue. Yet there are those who are assigned authority, albeit deservedly at times, such as competition jurors, agents, record label managers, etc. My question to them would be, why certain pianists and not others? How much value do these authoritative figures give a musician’s marketability vs their pure skill? In other words, if we lived in a world where we could not see pianists, but only hear them, would the results remain the same? Or would, perhaps, someone like Anna Vinnitskaya enjoy greater game than someone like Yuja Wang?

    • Christina Henson-Hayes says:

      Smells like misogyny to me. She can wear what she wants to. When you play like that you get a licence to do whatever the fuck you want.

      • John Sorel says:

        Not just misogyny, but racism. ‘Those who don’t dress as we do are to blame’. Donald Trump couldn’t have said it more clearly 🙁

        • Von Schneider says:

          No proof suggests that Trump is a racist. A racist is someone who believes another person is inferior on the basis of the color of his/her skin. Trump’s latest comments, disrespectful and inappropriate though they may be, are not in any way ‘racist’ according to any definition of racism I have ever encountered. Nuance matters you know?

          • John Sorel says:

            International opinion has taken a radically different view of your racist president. His latest disgraceful outbursts are merely the most recent episodes in his inglorious career.

            Your own highly personal definition of ‘racism’ panders to your own deeply-ingrained prejduces. I guess it must sting, when your nation is the butt of the joke all the time?

          • Mark says:

            John Sorel, do you really think that anyone in the US (aside from a few residents of San Francisco or the Upper West Side) worries about what the Europeans think ? Enjoy the third-world invasion ! I am sure these people will join the ranks of the classical music aficionados …

          • John Sorel says:

            The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph is staunchly conservative. They published a front-page cartoon today which shows how very far out-of-step you are with world opinion about Donald Trump


          • John Sorel says:

            The House of Representastives passed a motion yesterdday condemning Trump’s attack on the four womenbof colour.

            That leaves your argument in tatters, Von Schneider. You may now apologise. But your kind never apologise, do you?

            So you can take your nuance, and shove it where the sun don’t shine, Buddy,

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Huh? You can’t really believe that.

            1. He has been convicted for excluding black people from his property developments because they would “lower the price”.

            2. His “dog whistles” to the alt-right are knowing. Yet always staying just the right side of “plausible denial” for people like you to make such absurd claims.

        • guest says:

          trump is your boogey man; get over it

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        What a classy comment.

  • Robin Smith says:

    A link to the Guardian review she didn’t like;

    Her piano playing especially (but not exclusively) of technically difficult music is staggeringly fine. One of the must hear live musicians of today.

    • M McAlpine says:

      Clements appears to make a complete fool of himself in this review if its the same playing as on my disc. The problem is these guys can’t cope with success and want failure.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Oh, a Democrat!!

      • Fan says:

        The review is from many years ago. Critics are human beings so we must give them time. And very often a perceptive enemy, speaking from a specific point of view, is more useful than a generic friend or cheerleader. I think Yuja Wang understands this.

  • Anon says:

    “In a pre-Proms interview of stupefying superficiality”

    … Yeah. Having read some of her interviews, I get the feeling that she likes publicity, but probably thinks music journalists are all really dumb and not worth her time to have serious discussions with. On the other hand these journalists only care about clicks, so they are more than satisfied with the way the interviews went. Everyone is happy.

    • The View from America says:

      Sounds a lot like SD, come think of it …

    • Steve says:

      On the other hand I’ve noticed in serious interviews (with people that understand), she is extremely concise, insightful, and everything she says makes sense..

  • Paul Brownsey says:

    Many parents get uneasy when their daughter shows as much flesh.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “Many parents get uneasy when their daughter shows as much flesh.”

      That’s why I always tell my girlfriends to dress piously when they accompany my nude walks. 😀

    • Mick the Knife says:

      She isn’t in high school, she is 32 years old! Are you joking?

  • M McAlpine says:

    I can’t believe some of these comments. It would seem obvious, surely, to anyone with any sort of IQ that Yuja is acting out the teen rebellion she never had because she spent all her teens practicing. She is cocking a snook at the old farts and tin-eared critics in the musical establishment, many of which show zero sense of humour and must be about as much fun to live with as Hee-Haw. I am old enough to be her grandfather so when I see her come on to play Rhapsody in Blue in her undies (like the other week) I just smile indulgently and enjoy her brilliant playing. Why on earth get hot under the collar with her? That’s just the reaction she wants! Teen rebellion. She’ll get over it like we all did. Perhaps a bit later than most! In the meantime enjoy the scenery.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Not a problem if she wants to remain a permanent teen, just as long as she doesn’t screech #metoo.

      • John Sorel says:

        You’ve remained a permanent juvenile all your life, Sue – and look where it’s got you,, eh?

    • Enquiring Mind says:

      Pay attention to the women soloists of today. If they can be made up to appear a little bit hot, they do so because it gives the audience something to look at. The young Anne-sophie Mutter did it.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==Yuja is so good at playing the media game, ==

    She could drop this “media game” tomorrow and it would make absolutely no difference to her career. Jan Kaznowski makes an interesting point above about how her repertoire choices have matured. Now THAT would make a useful discussion.

    C’mon guys, let’s try to raise our standards !

    • Nijinsky says:

      Is this more Russia Bashing? I could do quite without hearing a Brahms concerto a bazillion more times, glorifying the turmoil underneath he exploits for supposed finesse. I don’t find Tchaikovsky has such suppression, he’s more into liberation I think, although Rachmaninoff does to me, with his Revolving door juxtaposition of sentimentality and then chase scenes as if that’s how you maintain such desires.

      If you are going to speak of “War” horses, although you’re still insulting horses, and I think you might mean chariots instead, then try Brahms and Rachmaninoff, which are about as prominent now as Weber’s Invitation to the Dance used to be. Soon to be following in its foot steps.

      Instead of Weber, you now have Vivaldi and Schubert, I’ll be glad to see what emerges when the current chariots maintaining such personality cults have flown the coop along with the “careers” thus sustained.

  • Cyril says:

    She has made statements like this about her parents in previous interviews. This is nothing new.

  • Michael Endres says:

    I don’t care much for interviews, musicians should be judged by their performances.
    And she is a phenomenal pianist, her recent Brahms 2 is one of the best I have ever come across.

    • Furzwängler says:

      Agree with you 100%. If she’s not already up there with the likes of Emil Gilels, she surely soon will be.

  • Nijinsky says:

    What is this offensive banter about her dresses, by the way. I would insult puberty would I call it pubescent.

    Maybe she’s comfortable in something that feels more liberating to her. Maybe she likes feeling the air on her legs. Maybe she just tried a dress she felt more comfortable with once, and then given the childish response wasn’t going to be intimidated.

    If she felt comfortable being naked playing piano, and stepped into a concert hall completely non violent that way, she would be arrested possibly, that’s how decent your society is.

    Anne Sophie Mutter for example has a strapless gown (not to make elderly people gasp, as I read sort of somewhere) but because she found that her skin is the best way to engage with the violin (rather than the material of a dress) while she plays. So she has a whole assortment of such dresses and calls them her uniforms.

    It would be amazing if you people going on about this would get over yourselves, as if it’s Afternoon of a Faune in America that needs to be edited for obscene content, to fit better into a chase scene for those into hiding their inclinations.