“Parents are putting less pressure on their kids,” says Lang Lang, as he prepares for the final of The Piano by playing at St Pancras station

Lang Lang
(Image credit: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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. Ahead of this, Lang Lang - who’s also performed with Metallica - 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 (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.

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.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.