Considered one of the most accomplished pianists of the modern era, Lang Lang has recently added another string to his bow: TV talent show judge on Channel 4’s The Piano. Along with noughties hitmaker Mika, he’s been shown secretly watching amateur pianists showing off their skills in train stations across the UK, and the show has become a ratings hit.
The final episode, which sees four pianists selected from the four previous shows performing at London’s Royal Festival Hall, airs tonight, and will also be available to UK viewers on All 4 (opens in new tab). Ahead of this, Lang Lang - who’s also performed with Metallica (opens in new tab) - has been passing on his advice to would-be pianists who have a piano sitting in their house that isn’t currently being played.
“Just make your piano alive,” he told The Times (opens in new tab) (paywall). “It’s a spiritual instrument… And don’t be afraid of hard work.”
Hard work is certainly something that Lang Lang is used to. Growing up, his father was a tough taskmaster, once telling his son - who was nine at the time - to take his own life after his teacher had told him he had “no talent” and shouldn’t play any more (opens in new tab).
Times have changed, though, and Lang Lang believes that today’s young pianists don’t have to suffer the same level of parental expectation. “This generation is not like my generation,” he told The Times. “Parents who are basically my age, they’re putting less pressure on their kids.”
In the run-up to the broadcast of The Piano’s finale, Lang Lang also made his debut on a public piano at St Pancras Station in London. Check out his performances of The Flight of the Bumblebee, composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Liebesträume, by Franz Liszt, below.