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Genius pianist’s concert void of decorum

Posted November. 03, 2015 07:55,   


More often than not, virtuosos of classical music reveal their habits on stage. The legendary diva Maria Callas was known for her notorious habit to readily cancel her concert on the day whenever she felt under the weather. Fans were disappointed with her arrogance, and her twilight years were misery. Pianist Kim Seon-uk says, “The best manners come from the confidence that you have in your performance,” which underscores the importance of skills for artists. However, classical music is as much an art of manners as it is an art of musical performance.

Every small detail found in the expressions, gestures, and gaits of the artist affects the level of satisfaction of the audience. Many performance artists including Kim Seon-uk go through separate training for stage manners, from the angle at which the artist bows to his audience to the way he walks. In this vein, Evgeny Kissin, the renowned Russian pianist, is truly a virtuoso. Among Korean fans, Kissin is well known for his passionate performance on the piano and his untiring efforts to play 30 curtail calls and 10 or so encores, which has earned him a fanatical fan-base in Korea.

Li Yundi, a genius Chinese pianist, made a major mistake of missing his time in collaboration with the Sydney Symphony at Seoul Art Center and playing his part again on Friday. It is a surprising episode, considering that he won the first prize in the Chopin Competition in 2000 at the age of 18 as one of the two musical geniuses of China along with Lang Lang. Indeed, the young pianist boasts impeccable credentials as a star from his outstanding skills to good looks. In the Chopin Competition in 2015, Li Yundi participated as a judge, contributing to Cho Seong-jin’s winning the first prize by giving him a generous score.

Even masters make mistakes when nervous. When Li Yundi made his mistake, the audience sent an encouraging applause. His response, however, was disappointing. The Chinese pianist irritably raised his left hand as if it was the orchestra’s mistake, and he canceled his autograph event and interviews before going back to his hotel. In the hotel, he posted the photos of himself in Halloween costumes on Facebook, adding the comment that “I’m gonna freak you out tomorrow.” The audience spent considerable money and time for his concert, and his manners certainly did not live up to the expectation. If his intention was to surprise the audience, it appears he succeeded.