Artists

Li Yundi

7.10.1982
Voice/Instrument: Pianoforte

Biography

Li Yundi (born October 7, 1982) is a Chinese classical pianist. He is also popularly known as Yundi and formerly Yundi Li. Born in Chongqing, Li is most well known for being the youngest pianist to win the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, in 2000, at the age of 18. He currently resides in Hong Kong.

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 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 Jianmin, 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 years. Two years later, his teacher introduced him to Dan Zhaoyi, 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 Shenzhen Arts School, Shenzhen, China.

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 Stravinsky International Youth Competition. In 1998, he won the 1998 Missouri Southern International Piano Competition (Junior Division). 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 Frédéric 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 the "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 für Musik und Theater").

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 exclusively recorded until November 2008, 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 obtained Hong Kong residentship 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 2008 feature-length documentary, The Young Romantic: Yundi Li, directed by Barbara Willis Sweete.

In January 2010, Li signed an exclusive recording contract with EMI Classics with plans to record the complete works for solo piano by Frédéric Chopin.

Li performed a solo recital at the Royal Festival Hall in London on the 16th March 2010. He played a repertoire of Chopin pieces to a sold-out crowd.

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Composers' compositions