Pianist Lang Lang has a Summer Song to share with us — and a Father’s Day story all his own. Seth Doane paid him a visit:
Thirty-five-year-old world-renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang wants to change the whole concept of classical piano. He’s brought his emotional, dramatic style to audiences across the globe: from New York’s Lincoln Center, to this night on a very special stage: his hometown of Shenyang, China.
He explained his concert rundown to Doane: “Tonight we will start with the ‘Cuban Dance’ [by Ernesto Lecuona], and then we will have this beautiful night music, and then we will take ‘Turkish March.’ And then we will have ‘Superman.'”
If he’s a celebrity elsewhere, he’s a superstar in Shenyang, a city of eight million in China’s northeast, where Doane met him at a CD signing ahead of the performance.
When asked how it feels to be home, Lang said, “It feels really warm. I left my hometown when I was nine, so I’m always missing my home.”
A promising young pianist, his parents moved him to Beijing as a child so he could work with the best teacher they could afford. He lived with his father in a $20-a-month apartment, while his mother, a telephone operator, sent what money she could to support them. It was a rough start.
“The first year was very, very difficult,” said Lang. “And I got fired by the piano teacher.” He said she claimed Lang had “No talent.”
Devastated, he stopped practicing, which sent his father into a fit of rage.
“My father just totally went nuts,” Lang recalled. “He’s like, you know, ‘You just got fired. And you’re still not serious about your playing, your life. And you should kill yourself.'”
“Your dad said you…