Lang Lang (郎朗) is a famed Chinese pianist. He was appointed United Nations Messenger of Peace on October 28, 2013, with a special focus on global education. Lang gave a piano performance as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon listened during the designating ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York. Lang is currently the youngest member among all the UN Messengers of Peace.
Lang was born on June 14, 1982, into a musical family of Manchu origin in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. His father is also a musician, who specializes in playing the erhu, a traditional Chinese string instrument. Lang began his piano lessons under the watchful eye of Professor Zhu Yafen of the Shenyang Conservatory of Music at the tender age of three.
At the age of five, he won first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition and performed his first public recital. At the age of seven, he once again won first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition. At the age of nine, he won first place at the National Piano Competition. That same year, his father resigned from his job and brought his son to Beijing where Lang enrolled in the Beijing Conservatory of Music and did his apprenticeship with Zhang Pingguo.
At the age of 11, Lang was awarded the first prize for an outstanding artistic performance during the fourth International Competition for Young Pianists in Ettlingen, Germany. At the age of 13, he won first place at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Japan. That same year, he was invited to be the featured soloist at the China National Symphony's inaugural concert.
At the age of 14, he began his studies with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. At the age of 17, he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Ravinia Music Festival. Not long after, Lang signed contracts with the world's first-class philharmonic orchestras and began his professional pianist career.
The following are the main achievements and honors Lang has gained since 2002.
In August 2002, he was presented with the Leonard Bernstein Award in Germany. The award is aimed at encouraging artists who have made great contributions to global art.
In 2003, he was elected one of the "Top 20 Young People That Will Change the World" by American People magazine.
In May 2004, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), helping raise awareness to ensure every child's right to quality health care and education.
In September 2004, he was awarded the Governor's Award for the Arts in Pennsylvania, U.S.
In November 2004, Lang Lang signed with the world's top watch brand "Rolex" to become its image spokesman.
In 2004, he signed with world-class car brand "Audi" to become its image spokesman.
In 2004, CNN International introduced five sets of special global reports about Lang. Many American television pop show programs also broadcasted special reports about the pianist.
In November 2004, he was appointed Hong Kong Tourism Ambassador. The BBC featured several special reports on Lang. His concert ranked first in box office records in both Europe and the United States. His CD sales volume ranked first in the United States, Germany and Austria.
In April 2005, he was invited by the Juilliard School of Music, U.S., to give lectures, becoming the youngest piano lecturer in the history of the school.
In June 2005, he successfully played Tchaikovsky's No. 1 Piano Concerto in collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic under famous orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta.
On October 9, 2005, invited by U.S. President George Bush, Lang gave a special performance at the White House, becoming the first Chinese pianist to perform there. President Bush awarded Lang the title of "World Peace Envoy."
On January 27, 2006, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, Lang played Mozart's Piano Concerto in C minor at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
On June 6, 2006, he performed with the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra, Domingo, Diana Damrau and other musicians at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup. That same year, he launched his piano album of "Yellow River Concerto," which won him much praise.
In 2008, he was selected to be a Beijing Olympic Games torch bearer.
In August 2010, Lang was elected vice chairman of the 11th All-China Youth Federation.
In 2012, he was selected to be a London Olympic Games torch bearer.
On Oct. 28, 2013, Lang was appointed United Nations Messenger of Peace, with a special focus on global education.
On Nov. 13, 2014, the pianist grabbed the prestigious German Bambi award in Berlin, becoming the first Chinese to receive the honor.
On May 20, 2015, Lang Lang received an honorary doctorate from New York University, during the school's 183rd commencement.