20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Pianist Yuja Wang | Playbill

Related Articles
Classic Arts Features 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Pianist Yuja Wang With her fiery, fearless performances and recordings, the young Beijing-born Pianist Yuja Wang has quickly established herself as one of the most exciting keyboard artists performing today.


Reviewing one of her releases for Deutsche Grammophon, the label for which she records exclusively, Gramophone enthusiastically praised her "combination of blazing technique and a rare instinct for poetry." People who follow her lively Twitter feed are apt to discover an artist who seems not only to be having an extraordinary amount of fun doing what she does, but also someone taking in, learning from and enjoying so much of the world around her.

Her responses to our "20 Questions" only reinforce our impression of Yuja Wang as a questing spirit.

1. A few works of classical music that you adore:

Brahms Symphonies and Ein deutsches Requiem; Stravinsky Le sacre du printemps; Prokofiev 2nd Symphony; Bach: St. Matthew Passion; Schubert Winterreise

2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:

Schnabel: Beethoven Sonatas; Gulda: Mozart Sonatas; Zimerman's recent Chopin concerti; Sofronitzky's Scriabin; Richter's Prokofiev 5th Concerto; Bruno Walter Schumann Symphonies; Emerson Quartet's Bart‹k set

3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:

Rihanna Rude Boy; Jeff Buckley Grace; Radiohead Kid A; Keith Jarrett Vienna Concert; Sting Nothing Like the Sun

4. Music that makes you cry - any genre:

Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, second movement; Chopin Polonaise Fantasy; Sting "Fragile"

5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):

I encounter the overrated works more often...

6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):

Definitely Mozart

7. Live music performance (s) you attended - any genre - that you'll never forget:

Mahler 1, Lucerne Festival and Claudio Abbado; Argerich Beethoven 2 in Philly with Dutoit; MTT with the San Francisco performing Stravinsky's Petrushka and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4

8. A few relatively recent films you love:

Inception; Avatar

9. A few films you consider classics:

The Godfather; The Dark Knight; Inception (guess I like Mr. Nolan); La vita  bella; A Clockwork Orange; Chaplin: Modern Times

10. A book (or two) that is important to you (and why):

Bernstein's Young People's Concert: I read it when I just moved to North America when I was 14, it helped my English and open up a new way of thinking about music, which is all about joyous discoveries. Anything by Hermann Hesse: beautiful ideas, and I love the way he incorporated Eastern philosophy in his novels. Also, reading Emerson gave me confidence on self-reliance, independence in thoughts, ideas and way of living.

11. Thing(s) about yourself that you're most proud of:

My watch, my miles on each airline, and my long fifth finger! If you asked me two years ago, it would be the list of pianists I have replaced.

12. Thing(s) about yourself that you're embarrassed by:

Procrastinating ability; Lack of coordination when away from piano; Blackberry and Facebook addiction

13. Three things you can't live without:

Internet; Abercrombie & Fitch signature scent Fierce: yes I know, it's for men; my memory

14. "When I want to get away from it all I...

Start to miss it.

15. "People are surprised to find out that I..."

Am normal.

16. "My favorite cities are...

NYC, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Taiwan, Beijing, Berlin, Paris without Parisians (excusez-moi)

17. "I have a secret crush on..."

Victoria...:). And Marc Zuckerberg, as of today, after seeing The Social Network. I'll keep it secret on Facebook, so I won't write on my wall.

18. "My most obvious guilty pleasure is..."


19. "I'd really love to meet - or to have met..."

Glenn Gould, Marlon Brando, Michael Jackson (but I probably would faint)

20. "I never understood why..."

In the U.S., 21 is the legal age for drinking. Unreasonably irrelevant! And why iPad is not oval-shaped.


21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):

Q: Do you think 2012 will be a year of momentous change in the world, possibly, as some have suggested, the end of the world?

A: Well, I wouldn't know. Whether or not it will happen, it does put us in a different perspective about life. From the positive point of view, I think it will force us to experience the Tao, to welcome change, to be in the moment thoroughly and at all time, to have a clarity in mind, knowing what's really important and pay attention to the quintessence. Whereas success, career, fame...are just appurtenance. So be fully alive, and have fun being a human.

Past installments of 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS:

Pianist Kirill Gerstein

Organist Cameron Carpenter

Choreographer Peter Martins

Soprano Diana Damrau

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein

Pianist David Fray

Violinist Sarah Chang

Pianist Ingrid Fliter

Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

Pianist Yefim "Fima" Bronfman

Soprano Sandrine Piau

Soprano Natalie Dessay

Harpsichordist and Conductor Christophe Rousset

Guitarist Xuefei Yang

Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti

Soprano Nicole Cabell

Pianist Jonathan Biss

Tenor Ian Bostridge

Soprano Danielle de Niese

New-Music Sextet eighth blackbird 

Composer and Violinist Mark O'Connor 

Composer Jake Heggie

Composer Ricky Ian Gordon

Pianist David Greilsammer


Albert Imperato, a music promoter who co-founded 21C Media Group in January 2000, writes frequently about the arts for various publications and blogs. 

His new series, 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS, is his take on (and nod to) Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire."

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting playbill.com with your ad blocker.
Thank you!