Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, China. He grew up there, in Beijing, China and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I could only find a couple of references to Lang Lang’s spirituality. He thanks the “the gods of good fortune” for his success. I assume he refers to Fu Lu Shou, the gods of Good Fortune, Prosperity, and Longevity, whose statue representations are ubiquitous in Chinese households.
In contemplating how his rise to fame began he says,
[M]aybe it all started with ,Monkey King, and my belief in this supernatural gifts. . . or the Chinese belief that certain colors, such as red, or the Chinese numbers, such as 8888, brought power and good fortune.
It seems his beliefs are rooted in Chinese folklore and tradition which integrates elements of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.
Unwitting pawn or willful accomplice?
Lang Lang is intimately tied in with the Chinese government, which automatically makes him political, but it’s unclear if it’s love of his country or of his government which motivates his loyalty.
He is a vice president of the All-China Youth Federation, an organization of the Chinese government, and he appears supportive and loyal to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
He caused a stink at the White House when he played an anti-American song at a state dinner. After the event he said he picked the song solely because of its beautiful melody, with no regard to its political message. But he also said,
Playing this song praising China to heads of state from around the world seems to tell them that our China is formidable, that our Chinese people are united. I feel deeply honored and proud.
Sounds like more than just love of melody to me. At another concert in the United Kingdom, Lang was approached by a Chinese dissident and asked to play a song in honor of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. According to one report, the pianist “turned visibly pale” and asked the man to be escorted out by security.
The CCP seems to be treating Lang Lang very well, and he certainly has not experienced first-hand the human rights violations for which the Chinese government is frequently criticized. He either doesn’t care much about the politics and just wants to play music and make his country proud, or he is an active participant in promoting Chinese propaganda around the world. What do you think?
Book Review: Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story (by Lang Lang with David Ritz. ↩︎
Message from ‘EU-China Year of Youth Ambassador’ Lang Lang. ↩︎
White House Says Chinese Folk Song Played During State Dinner Was Not An Insult; Experts Divided. ↩︎