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The worldwide celebrity that the pianist Lang Lang enjoys makes my initial reception at the Chinese restaurant in Paris he has chosen a little disconcerting. The waitress appears not to understand when I say the table is booked in the name of Lang Lang. As I am led to a small table at the front of the restaurant, I fret that I have mangled the tones ? so crucial when speaking Cantonese and Mandarin ? in pronouncing his name. While the two words look identical in English, his given name means “happiness and sunshine” and his surname means “educated gentleman” in Chinese.
Happily, Lang Lang, 26, soon arrives, dressed soberly by his flashy standards in a black jacket, black shirt and jeans. The glow of his fame and his friendliness transforms the scene. The manager greets him warmly and leads us to a table at the back of the restaurant, where a bamboo screen gives us the effect of a private room. This is a fixture at all good restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai. I ask him if he finds it hard to dine out in China because he is so well-known. “It is extremely hard ? fortunately and unfortunately,” he says. That remark, I later realise, reflects his level-headed approach to being a famous pianist. He may be out of practice ordering at Chinese restaurants, however, because our small square table is soon heaving with a deep-fried aubergine starter, sweetcorn soup, delicious sautéed pork and a pot of jasmine tea ? and the food keeps coming until there is barely enough room for my notebook.
No sooner is a dish placed on the table than Lang Lang's chopsticks are flying over the plates as if he were conducting an orchestra, deftly lifting food on to my plate. (At one point, he lifts a strand of pork that I have dropped on my notebook and puts it on a side plate. He intermittently chides me for taking notes instead of eating.) “This restaurant is so good that every time I am in Paris I come here with friends and relatives,” he says. He's in town for a concert. I am just off the Eurostar from London to meet him. He laughs when I tell him that when I first moved from Hong Kong to London some years ago, I looked for flats near Queensway in west London because the local restaurants have some of the best Chinese food in the city.
I struggle with my digital recorder for a minute and he can't resist a joke ? “It must be British-made” ? a rebuttal of the cracks people sometimes make about the quality of Chinese-made products.
Chinese exports have begun to move upmarket ? and Lang Lang has become one of the most public faces of the new China. He first burst into the international consciousness in a fairy-tale debut in 1999, aged 17, when he stood in for André Watts in front of 17,000 people at the Ravinia festival near Chicago. He had dreamed the night before that his piano was “a rocketship orbiting the globe”. When he finished playing the explosive first movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1 to wild applause, his career went stratospheric. The assembled musical luminaries, including the conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the violinist Isaac Stern, the festival's musical director and others, prolonged the night by asking him to play Bach's difficult Goldberg Variations from memory, in a private recital that began after 2am.
Ten years on, with endorsement contracts ranging from Audi and Montblanc to Sony and Adidas, Lang Lang is often referred to as a crossover star, a classical musician who has rock star appeal. (Adidas now sells a Lang Lang trainer, bearing his name and gold stripes, for $125.) He played at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies, and has a huge following in both the east and west, with much-watched appearances on YouTube. Today more than 30m Chinese people are learning to play the piano ? a popularity at least partly attributable to his meteoric career.
With the recorder finally on, I ask him about this month's series of concerts and programmes with the London Symphony Orchestra. He is particularly excited about a masterclass on April 18, which will climax with a performance of Schubert's March Militaire for 100 pianists of all abilities from schools in east London. This is part of an effort he makes in several cities to make music fun for young people.
“What I find is the problem is the image of our work. The kids think that we are very boring people; never talk, like a robot, and are very arrogant. [They think] we are the elite. Actually, we're not. We're just a normal person. And that is the first thing we need to change when we go to all the schools, to inspire them and to say, ‘Look, guys,tt娱乐, we are a normal person.' ” Being closer to the age of students helps as well: “Many parents say, ‘Can you say something to my kids because if you say something they will listen.' If you have learned wonderful things from other people then it is important to share that with young people.”
中国出口商已开始走向市场高端，郎朗也成为新时期中国最为人熟知的面孔之一。他第一次受到世界的关注，是在1999年芝加哥附近的拉维尼亚(Ravinia)音乐节上，那是一场神话般的首演，当时17岁的他顶替安德列?瓦兹(André Watts)，站在1.7万名观众面前。演出前一天晚上，他曾梦到他的钢琴变成了“一艘宇宙飞船，环绕地球”。当他演奏完柴可夫斯基(Tchaikovsky)气势磅礴的第一钢琴协奏曲第一乐章后，获得了现场观众雷鸣般的掌声，此后他的事业蒸蒸日上。演出结束后，聚集在一起的音乐大师们，包括指挥家克里斯托弗?艾森巴赫(Christoph Eschenbach)、小提琴家艾萨克?斯特恩(Isaac Stern)、该音乐节的音乐总监以及其他人，邀请他在凌晨2点后开始的私人演奏会上背谱演奏了难度很高的巴赫(Bach)的《哥德堡变奏曲》(Goldberg Variations)。
Lang Lang is evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music. For a man who does as many as 130 concerts a year at about $50,000 each (according to figures published in The New Yorker), he still spends a lot of time in schools. Last November he started the Lang Lang Foundation to promote musical education in the US, Europe and China. He is also chairman of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation, which gives patrons of the arts ?15,000 to donate to their favourite cultural cause.
This focus on education is not surprising. Journey of a Thousand Miles, Lang Lang's autobiography, published next week in the UK, could be called Journey with a Thousand Teachers instead. At almost every step in his life, a teacher played a crucial role. Lang Lang was born in June 1982 in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang. His mother was a telephone operator; his father was a policeman by profession and a musician by vocation. Lang Guoren, who played a two-stringed Chinese fiddle called the erhu, started his son playing the piano at three. At four, Lang Lang had his first lessons with a woman named Zhu Ya-Fen. Her own teacher committed suicide during China's Cultural Revolution, when western classical musicians were ridiculed by students. The legacy she had passed on to Zhu was Bach and Mozart, which in turn Zhu handed on to Lang Lang. “She was a wonderful foundation tutor. And the thing is, not many Chinese teachers know how to play Bach. She's probably the best Bach teacher in China,” Lang Lang recalls. This was partly a legacy of the Cultural Revolution, he explains: “Many of the teachers were trained in the Soviet Union in the Russian repertoire.”
When Lang Lang was nine, his father gave up his job and took his son to Beijing so he could study for a place in the prestigious conservatory there. The two lived off the $150 his mother sent from Shenyang every month, in an apartment so cold that his father would get into bed first to warm it up for his son. Life was miserable and father and son rowed bitterly over how much he practised. After his father lost his temper one day and shouted hysterically that Lang Lang should kill himself rather than bring shame on the family, the boy refused to play for four months.
His autobiography reads like an Amy Tan novel: the stand-off between father and son was ended when a fruit-seller befriended the unhappy boy and encouraged him to continue to play. Then his first teacher, Zhu Ya-Fen, unexpectedly dropped by their home in Beijing after a teaching stint in the US. She arranged for him to work with a professor who got him ready for admission to the elite conservatory the next summer.
The book details his father's outbursts and high-handedness but is dedicated to him and to his mother, Zhou Xiulan. I say that what ultimately shines through the autobiography is his father's obsessive love for his son ? and not the outbursts that reviewers in the US, where the book was published last year, fixated on. “In the west this is very difficult for people to understand. Asians have a different view of life.”
录音机终于恢复正常了，我问他关于本月的音乐会系列以及与伦敦交响乐团(London Symphony Orchestra)的计划。他对4月18日举行的大师班尤其感到兴奋，该活动的高潮将是他为来自伦敦东区学校所有等级的100位钢琴家演奏舒伯特的《军队进行曲》(March Militaire)。这是他在几个城市做出的努力的一部分，旨在让年轻人从音乐中找到乐趣。
Lang Lang tells me his father said to “a [Chinese] journalist that he was very touched by the book because he thought it showed I had grown up. I feel proud that he didn't get upset or anything,tt娱乐.”
In 1997, at 15, Lang Lang won a scholarship to the US and studied under Gary Graffman, whose own career had been cut short by an injury to his hand. Like other piano students at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute, Lang Lang was given an apartment of his own, which he shared with his father, with its own seven-foot Steinway. Lang Lang woke in the middle of his first night there and went to touch the piano to make sure it was real. “It was just like heaven,” he recalls with so much feeling it might have been yesterday. “The smallest school in the world. The whole school is like one class of the (Beijing) conservatory. In the conservatory you used to have five or six people fighting over a little, stupid upright piano. You needed to have a ticket to play.”
郎朗非常热衷于努力普及古典音乐。对于一个每年以每场约5万美元的出场费参加多达130场音乐会（这些数据发表于《纽约客》杂志(The New Yorker)）的人而言，他仍花费很多时间走入校园。去年11月，他创办了郎朗基金会(Lang Lang Foundation)，以推动美国、欧洲和中国的音乐教育。他还是万宝龙文化基金会(Montblanc Cultural Foundation)的主席，该基金会为艺术赞助人提供1.5万欧元，以捐赠给他们青睐的文化事业。
In spite of such fine schools as the Curtis and the Julliard, the crisis in music education, Lang Lang says, is in the US, not in China. Perhaps mirroring Asia's ascendancy, while classical music audiences in London and New York seem to be greying rapidly, in Taipei or Hong Kong it sometimes seems as if the average age of the audience is about 10. Lang Lang replies that in the US, budget deficits mean that “the first thing they cut is music and art and many of the schools don't have a music programme any more. There's no training really for how to listen to Beethoven and Mozart. It's [as] if you are a student and you don't learn Hugo and Shakespeare. You can't expect someone who has never listened to classical music to suddenly start listening to it when he is 30 years old.”
他这种对教育的关注并不意外。郎朗的自传《千里之行》(Journey of a Thousand Miles)将于下周在英国出版，本书可能会被称为“与一千位老师的旅程”(Journey with a Thousand Teachers)。在他人生中的几乎每一步，老师都起到了关键的作用。1982年6月，郎朗出生在中国东北城市沈阳。他的母亲是一名电话接线员，父亲是一名警察，但却拥有音乐才能。郎国任拉过二胡，在郎朗3岁那年开始让他弹钢琴。4岁时，郎朗师从音乐教师朱雅芬。朱雅芬自己的老师在文化大革命(Cultural Revolution)时期自杀，当时西方古典音乐家曾受到学生们的嘲笑。她留给朱雅芬的遗产是巴赫和莫扎特(Mozart)，然后朱雅芬又将其传授给了郎朗。郎朗回忆道：“她是一位优秀的启蒙老师。问题是，懂得如何演奏巴赫的中国老师并不是很多。她可能是中国最优秀的教授如何弹奏巴赫作品的老师。”从某种程度上来说，这是文化大革命留下的遗产。他解释道：“许多老师都是在前苏联接受的俄罗斯曲目的训练。”
For all his technical fluency, Lang Lang has been criticised for “self-indulgent” playing. In part to help rein himself in, he has enlisted the conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim ? a former boy wonder himself ? to be his latest mentor. (Lang Lang asked the legendary Israeli musician to teach him on their first meet ing.) Every few months Lang Lang visits Barenboim in Berlin. “He teaches me how to control myself ... and not to let the emotion take over the knowledge. But the thing is, you need to have the fantasies ? otherwise everyone plays the same.”
Lunch winds down and the table is cleared away speedily ? sautéed mutton, Chinese scrambled eggs and heavy fried bread go back almost untouched ? to make room for a huge platter of exotic fruit, which we pick at until it is time for him to go and have a nap before the evening's concert.
Lang Lang's conversation roams from Beijing's transformation into an outward-looking city as a result of its hosting the Olympics to the Sichuan earthquake last May. The pianist helped organise a concert to raise money for victims. I ask about the plight of Huang Qi, an activist jailed for championing the cause of parents of some of the 10,000 children who died when shoddily made schools collapsed. He glides past this political question, saying he doesn't know about it; as a Chinese superstar, he probably deems it unwise to answer.
His sunny persona is unaffected, and Lang Lang is on to an anecdote about his former teacher, Graffman. “We live across the street from each other in New York and we have parties together.” Lang Lang took a mobile phone photo of Graffman's flat and sent the photo to Graffman, who immediately called back. “He said: ‘Show me, show me' [how to take pictures]. He's really cute. He's 81 and he's into technology.” Lang Lang's easy melding of American slang and informality with a typically Chinese reverence for a teacher is touching. If this is what it means to be a global citizen, we need more like him.
Lang Lang is at the Barbican Centre with the London Symphony Orchestra from April 20; .uk
Le Bistrot de Pékin
38 rue de Ponthieu 75008 Paris
1997年，15岁的郎朗得到了赴美、从师于加里?格拉夫曼(Gary Graffman)的奖学金，格拉夫曼自己的事业因为他的手受伤而被迫中止。与其他在费城颇具声望的柯蒂斯音乐学院(Curtis Institute)学习钢琴的学生一样，郎朗有了自己的一间公寓，他与父亲合住，公寓里还有一架7英尺斯坦威钢琴(Steinway)。在来到学校的第一天夜里，郎朗在睡梦中醒来，走过去摸了摸那架钢琴，以确定这一切都是真的。“感觉就像是到了天堂，”他回忆道，往事似乎历历在目：“那是全世界最小的学校。整个学校就像是（北京）中央音乐学院的一个班。在中央音乐学院，你会看到5个或6个人因为一架小小的、愚蠢的立式钢琴而竞争。要想弹钢琴，必须先得到入场券。”
Sweetcorn soup x2 ?10
Chinese-style tofu ?6.50
Deep-fried aubergine ?8
Sautéed pork ?12.50
Sautéed mutton with leek ?11.50
Chinese-style scrambled eggs ?8
Peking pancake ?4
Steamed rice ?2.50
北京食堂(庞蒂厄(Le Bistrot de Pékin)Ponthieu)街38号，75008，巴黎，
Jasmine tea x2 ?5
玉米羹 2份 10欧元
Fresh fruit platter ?25
茉莉花茶 2份 5欧元