Monday, 8 September 2014

Entertainment Monday: Yuja Wang ( 8 September 2014)

* Posted on behalf of Jon Bear who is having some computer issues.

Classical music is probably the music that stirs me emotionally more than any other kind of music.  There are many wonderful composers who I am fond of and while I may focus on a composer or two in the future I wanted this Entertainment Monday to be about a classical performer, Yuja Wang.  


Yuya Wang is an extremely talented and also very beautiful, 27 year old pianist who has found a bit of controversy in the dresses she wears while performing.  It's not that anything she wears is really outrageous, it's just that some of the classical audience can be a little prude and hold to traditions, so when a beautiful women wears a slinky brightly coloured dress while she performs it can cause a small uproar.  I know I mention this first and could have left it alone, but I just wanted to get it out of the way and indicate how silly I believe the "controversy" surrounding her is.  Like anything though controversy can bring more attention so I'm sure it's something she can use to her advantage, as she seems pretty secure and comfortable in herself and her choices relative to the classical music scene.   

What this really is about is her talent and performance ability which is tremendous.  Long before and long since I ever saw a picture of Yuja Wang I enjoyed listening to her piano performances.   Few people can make the big time in whatever they do professionally without special talent.  As an amateur musician for 14 or so years performing in school and in college I have a small insight into the dedication and time that performers must put into their music learning.   I hold an incredible level of respect for anyone who takes the time to learn an instrument and especially for those who try to make a living in music.  Not everyone can be a star and not everyone can be a soloist, but anyone who performs instrumental music does so first and foremost for the love of music.  Not everyone can be a child prodigy either as Yuja Wang was so she had that working for her which most people do not right from the get go I suppose.  I'm particularly a fan of piano compositions and that is how I was first introduced to Yuja Wang.

I used to search for piano pieces I love on I tunes and later on you tube and audiolizer and often times some of the pieces I enjoy most were performed by Yuja Wang.  Having thoroughly enjoyed many of her performances I became a fan.  One of the challenges to posting links to classical music is that you tube versions of classical performances that are over 10 minutes long often skip.  I've never looked into why this is and if it has to do with copy write laws or not, but those disjointed performances don't really do justice to the music so whenever I post a classical link it will be to a piece that is under 10 minutes long.  That means that I am a bit limited in the performances I can post and some of my favorites must be excluded.  I know not everyone wishes to spend a good chunk of time listening to one piece of music either, so the shorter clips may help some of our readers in that respect. 

A figure that there are several people might be familiar with the Flight of the Bumblebee, so here's a clip of Yuja Wang performing the whimsical piece by Rimsky-Korsikov ...

One of my favorite musical pieces which is a particularly challenging piano piece even for professionals to perform is the Erlkonig (the Erlking) originally written by Franz Schubert and adapted to a piano performance later by the composer Franz Liszt. 


The Erlkonig is an evil fairy king from German folklore known for stealing children from their parents. The famous German Poet Goethe wrote a poem about the Erlkonig which was where Franz Shubert found the inspiration for his piece.  In Schubert's piece the song tells the tale of a father who's son has visions of the Erlkonig.  The son fears for his life and reveals his fears to his father telling him about his dream like visions.  The father tries to assure his son that there is nothing to be afraid of.  The visions continue though and the father begins to fear for his son, and tries to rush him to the safety of their home.  Before the father can race home with his son the Erlkonig takes the sons life during one of these nightmarish visions ( think Freddie Kruger loooonggg before Nightmare on Elm Street ever existed)  and the piece ends dramatically with the father lamenting the death of his son at the hands of the Erlkonig.  

Here is Yuja Wang's amazing virtuoso performance...

and here is a link to a more eloquent explanation of the Erlkonig: which includes another version (although incomplete) of the piano performance by pianist Daniil Trifonov.  

I hope that classical fans will enjoy listening to Yuja Wang and for those who may not have known about her, perhaps her performances will bring some new fans to the amazing world of classical music and piano performance. 


  1. I enjoyed finding about Yuja Wang. I believe I might have seen a video of her some years ago and someone did criticize the tight blue dress she was wearing. I think her sexy outfits have helped her career as they say, any publicity is good publicity. However, I think it's mostly her talent that shines through. She has such lightning fast hands and you can tell she is passionate about her music.

  2. Yes if you're able to be yourself and also create a bit of a buzz around you at the same time, that kind of thing can set you apart in the entertainment industry. While it may come with some negative criticism as long as that negative criticism isn't universal than you've got the best of both worlds, being true to you but creating that buzz and interest. =)


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