China dominates the future of piano playing

China dominates the future of piano playing


norman lebrecht

June 26, 2021

These are the finalists in today’s 2021 Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition:

Hao Rao from China
Lixin Zhang from New Zealand
Kasey Shao from USA
Haozhou Wang from China
Maria Eydman from Germany


  • Kun says:

    A descriptive, or a normative, statement?

  • Una says:

    You only have to look at the intake of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, I am told, to see that phenomenon! Don’t know about the four London music colleges.

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Experienced Gina Bachauer playing the
    Grieg Concerto ca. 1970 with the
    Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom. Truly, one of the most stunning musical events I have ever heard or seen….

  • DongDong Wong says:

    Well at least we can look forward to 50 years of hilarious names

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s sure been enough for some of the US Ivy Leagues to put quotas on the admission numbers for Asian American students!!!

  • David says:

    Is 2 out of 5 the new standard of “domination”? Or just Clickbait?

    The tagline could have just as easily (and more defensibly) said “Western Pianists Dominate the Future…”

  • Leds says:

    I only see two from China

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    It may be interesting to reflect over a broader time frame. Since the 20th century, the world has witnessed trends and cycles of demographic shifts among performing artists. After the likes of the Lhevinnes and Isabelle Vengerova, for example, who taught many American students, the American school of piano playing maintained a stronghold among artists performing during the 1950s and 1960s. If one visits YouTube, there are countless artists from many countries who had performed and recorded, but their names never quite hit the spotlights as others. Not taking away from them, their artistry was of the highest calibre, which one will find upon listening to their recordings. The dominant players like Fleisher, Graffman, Kapell, Cliburn, Frager etc., took the traditions to the next generation in the continuum of piano playing. European and Asian artists, and a new Russian school of artists coming out of the studios in Russia, took the reins thereafter. Piano competitions became a norm, which brought forth many gifted musicians from all over the world. This is not to say they were able to maintain performing careers, however, many took the positive steps of teaching to keep the traditions alive into the next generations. This was and remains extremely important. They continued teaching and performing traditional repertoire and, in some cases, brought new music to the repertoire. True, there are many students of China studying all over the world, and entering competitions at young ages. However, it may be too early to project what will come of them as they pass the competition age limits and enter the post-35 year old career. Obviously, this applies to all musicians. But I don’t think we can generalize such a trend. Remember, the word ‘fad’ contains the first three letters of the word ‘fade’. What is most important, is seeing the music transcend the current generation into the next. That is more important than any one competition or performance. The music must continue to evolve in new hands.

  • Peter says:

    Compared to the number of inhabitants, I’d rather say they underperform.

  • Jack says:

    China dominates the future of western classical music. Period.

  • Guest says:

    China will be to classical music in the 21st Century what the Soviet Union was during the 20th.

  • Steven van Staden says:

    They have the work ethic and focus. Westerners are too busy being woke and lazy. The general decline in the Western attitude is worrying and depressing.

  • Plush says:

    China has 100 million piano students.

  • M2N2K says:

    Unfortunately for the rest of the world, China dominates the future of many other human endeavors as well.

  • Nick says:

    The title should have been simply “China dominates the Future!!!”

  • Eusebius says:

    china dominates everything today so what else is new

  • Harry Collier says:

    Work ethic. Alas, not a concept much known in the Western world, where “rest on your ancient laurels” holds sway amongst too many of the younger generation. Start learning Mandarin.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Whenever I hear about China and classical music, it’s mostly about pianists. What about children’s choruses, classical singin or other instruments?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Absolutely brilliant!! Whoever said classical music was on the down and down?? Thanks to Asians, absolutely NEVER.

  • Cornelia Beilke says:

    I think it is time for Norman to get some sensitivity training! White privilege thinking needs addressing! Who cares where musicians are from if they can play? What is Norman trying to say? Does he disapprove of non-European non- white artists? Does he not know that this inflammatory headline is offensive?

  • Cornelia Beilke says:

    Maybe it is time that American parents take their kids cell phones away and get them to music lessons…but, they would also have to put their cell phones away…

  • Michel Lemieux says:

    Don’t tell that to Pinky Zuckerman.