The world-renowned piano virtuoso recalls his musical childhood in a new memoir, Journey of a Thousand Miles. Lang Lang will now take your questions
As a person who has grown up with pop music, I find it hard to enjoy classical music. What can I do about this? James Jiang, Norwich, U.K.
I don't think that if you listen to pop music, you can't enjoy classical. Find something very popular to listen to first--piano pieces by Chopin or something like Swan Lake--and then you can move on to Mahler or Wagner.
What can you do to keep classical music alive? Barry Werger Claremont, Calif.
Something I tried to achieve with this autobiography was to bring in people who don't necessarily listen to classical music. The image of [classical musicians] is already changing a bit. Look at CD covers. They actually look like real people now, as opposed to before, when musicians would always wear tuxedos with big tails. I hate wearing tuxedos.
How do you manage to maintain and convey the emotion of a piece after playing it hundreds of times? Umesh Panchaksharaiah Richmond, Calif.
The first time you play a piece, your blood pressure is high. The second time, you are more clear in your mind. I always play a piece three times in a row, and then I stop and get another piece out. That way, there's always a freshness to it.
Your talent was visible at an early age. What impact did that have on your childhood? Chacha Wang, Rockville, MD.
Once you are a pianist, you need to give up part of your childhood. I was always jealous of other people when they would go to the park and I would be practicing like I was in a zoo.
Is it possible for modern life and classical music to coexist, or are they in parallel worlds? Andrei Zakharov, Moscow
It's like reading Shakespeare. No matter how old the play is, it's concerned with human feelings. There's war, there's peace, there are great days, and there are tragic days. That will never change.
Do you have any plans to integrate Chinese music into your classical Western canon? Li You, Apex, N.C.
Recently I've worked with a few great Chinese composers. Tan Dun had this concept of a kung-fu piano concerto--lots of extreme finger movement and using elbows and palms to play. It was like watching Jackie Chan fight.
Other than classical, do you have a favorite musical genre? Spencer J. Gordon Chesteron, Ind.
I love jazz and opera. And also hip-hop. They make impressive music videos. Classical-music videos are still pretty traditional. You can probably direct one yourself. Just put a piano out in some landscape.
How do you handle stage fright? John Arndt Grand Rapids, Mich.
The bigger the venue is, the better. Every time I go back to China, I play in stadiums that fit 10,000 to 12,000 people. They cheer like it's a pop concert. After the show, I need to wait two hours before I can get out of the stadium.
Who are your favorite pianists? Paul Chow, Toronto
I call Vladimir Horowitz "the Magician." He made everything so simple, it was like magic. When Arthur Rubinstein plays, he brings his heart out to you. It's so personal and so warm. And Glenn Gould is a unique genius. You've probably heard many pianists playing the same work, but when you hear Gould, it's like it's brand-new.
Have you ever wanted to do something else with your life? Marcela Schaefer, TampaA, Fla.
Absolutely. I once had a teacher who thought I wasn't talented enough and fired me. For a period of time, I thought, There are so many other things to do. Why piano?