Li Yundi (born October 7, 1982) is a classical pianist. He is also popularly known by the Western iteration of his name, Yundi Li. Born in Chongqing, China, Li is most well known for being the youngest pianist to win the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition at the age of 18 in the year 2000. Li now resides in Hong Kong, where he continues to give concerts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Yundi Li - Piano Concert Videos Part 2
His father, Li Chuan, and his mother, Zhang Xiaolu, both worked for the Sichuan Chongqing Steel and Iron Company. Although coming from a family of non-musicians, Li Yundi took to music early. When he was three years old, his parents bought him an accordion after he was so entranced by an accordion player in a shopping mall that he refused to leave. He mastered the instrument by the age of four, studying with Tan Jian Min, a music professor in China. Only one year later, he won the top prize at the Chongqing Children's Accordion Competition. Li began studying piano at the age of seven. Two years later, his teacher introduced him to Dan Zhao Yi, one of China's most renowned piano teachers, with whom he would study for nine years. Li's ambition was to become a professional pianist. In 1994, he entered the junior high school associated with the Sichuan Music Academy.
Li has received top awards at various competitions. He won the Children's Piano Competition in Beijing in 1994. In 1995, he was awarded first place at the Stravinksy International Youth Competition. In 1998, he won the 1998 South Missouri International Youth Piano Competition. The next year, he took Third Prize at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition of Utrecht, as well as being a major winner in the China International Piano Competition. He also won first place at the Gina Bachauer Young Artists International Piano Competition.
In October 2000, at the urging of the Chinese Culture Ministry, Li participated in the 14th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. He was the first participant to be awarded First Prize in 15 years. At 18 years of age, he was the youngest winner—and the first Chinese—in the competition's history. Li was given a Polonaise award by the Chopin Society for his performance at the competition.
Soon after, Li sought out pianist Arie Vardi as an instructor, and therefore left his parents' home to live and study at a music school in Hannover, Germany (Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater)
Performing and recording career
Li's debut in the United States took place in June 2003 at Carnegie Hall, as part of Steinway and Sons' 150th Anniversary Gala. His United States concerto debut took place the next month, when he performed Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1. He was also honoured at a special reception at the home of the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, where he performed for various officials of the US State Department.
Li's second recording of Liszt for Deutsche Grammophon, for whom he still—as of 2006—exclusively records, was released in August 2003 and was named "Best CD of the Year" by The New York Times. His third recording, comprising Chopin's four Scherzi and three Impromptus, was released in late 2004. He has also given a recital in the renowned Musikverein in Vienna, performing works by Mozart, Scarlatti, Schumann, and Liszt.
Li emigrated to Hong Kong in November 2006 under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, the first batch of people to do so under the scheme.
Li is the subject of a forthcoming feature-length documentary, The Young Romantic: Yundi Li, directed by Barbara Willis Sweete.
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