Whet your appetite before reading issue 105!
‘Her combination of technical ease, colouristic range and sheer power has always been remarkable … but these days there is an ever-greater depth to her musicianship, drawing you into the world of each composer with compelling immediacy. – Financial Times
In the latest issue of Pianist magazine – which you can order here - (we’re at 105 already!), Chinese megastar Yuja Wang encompasses our cover and talks to Peter Quantrill about Prokofiev and her unrelenting schedule. To celebrate one of the world's most famous pianists, we’ve put together 5 inspirational facts about Wang to whet your appetite before reading issue 105.
1. An early starter
Yuja began playing the piano at the age of just six, and began attending Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music a year later. This is China’s leading music school. Aged 11, Yuja became the youngest ever student to attend the Morningside Music Bridge International Music Festival – held at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.
2. Exceptional training
She attended Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music and received advanced training from American Gary Graffman, who coincidentally also taught Chinese pianist Lang Lang. Graffman is a prominent American classical pianist and teacher. You may know him for his performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue which features in the 1979 Woody Allen movie Manhattan. Portions of this recording have been featured countless times in TV and movies in the years since.
3. Replacing a true great
Fittingly, her international breakthrough came when she replaced the great Argentinian Martha Argerich as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Following this breakthrough, she signed a contract Deutsche Grammophon. She hasn’t looked back since and has gone on to win the Gramophone Classic FM’s Young Artist of the Year 2009, an Avery Fisher Career Grant Recipient 2010, the Echo Klassik Young Artist of the Year 2011, and the Musical America Artist of the Year 2017.
4. 'Through the Eyes of Yuja' - a Documentary
Released this year on the C Major label, this documentary plus film follows Yuja as she performs concertante works by Gershwin and Ravel. Made in 2015, the film has only just received international release. ‘Through the Eyes of Yuja, we glimpse the price of fame and the stamina required to keep her show on the road – or, most of the time, in the air, from continent to continent.’ Those are the words of Pianist contributor Peter Quantrill, who had the pleasure of interviewing Yuja for our latest issue of Pianist (on a mountaintop in Switzerland, of all places!).
5. Playing from the score vs. playing off by heart
‘I’d always rather have the music,’ explains Yuja. ‘Because we learn music with the music, I find the pressure just isn’t there, because 60 per cent of the nervousness on stage is about memory. Though once I had the music there and still had a blackout!
The music reminds you of what the composer wants. You pay more attention to the dynamic markings, and it feels more relaxed.’
To read Yuja Wang’s full article, order your copy of Pianist magazine here.