The Manchurian pianist Lang Lang made a remarkable impression on the music world as a potentially great classical pianist before reaching the age of 20. He was born in Shenyang, formerly Mukden, the capital of Manchuria and now the capital of the province of Liaoning.
Lang Lang began studying piano when he was three years old at the Music College of Shenyang under professor Zhu Ya-Fen. Lang won first prize in a children's piano competition there before making his public debut at the age of five. In 1990 he won the "Fu Cheng Xian" memorial scholarship and took another first prize in the Shenyang Competition. At the age of nine he entered the China Central Music Conservatory, studying with Professor Zhao Ping-Guo. In 1993, he won the Xing Hai Cup Piano Competition in Beijing, in 1994 the Fourth International Young Pianist Competition in Germany, taking both first prize and the prize for most artistic performance, and in 1995 he won the Second Tchaikovsky International Young Pianist Competition of Japan. In September 1996, he was invited to perform at the inaugural concert of the China Symphony Orchestra with President Jiang Ze Min as guest of honor. He played recitals in China and Japan and recorded the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Moscow Philharmonic in a concert for Japan Television. In July 1996 made his New York debut at Steinway Hall, performing the complete Twenty-four Etudes of Chopin.
In 1997 he entered the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Gary Graffman. He debuted with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the 1998 - 1999 season and in the same year made his first appearance in Hong Kong, with that city's Philharmonic. In 1999 Lang made a triumphant last-minute appearance at the Ravinia Festival as a substitute for the indisposed André Watts.
August 2000 saw his first appearances at some of the major American musical festivals and venues: Wolf Trap Park with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Blossom Festival with the Cleveland Orchestra. He also performed a recital in the Seiji Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Festival of Massachusetts. The audiophile Telarc label recorded that event live and has released it as his debut commercial recording. It is a program designed to exhibit his diversity, including the Haydn E Major Piano Sonata in E, Hob. XVI:31, Rachmaninov's Second Piano Sonata, two short pieces by Tchaikovsky, Brahms' Six Pieces, Op. 118, and the highly difficult Islamey by Mily Balakirev. His Carnegie Hall debut in April 2001, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was sold out.