Do or Die – Lang Lang’s Story

An episode from Alan Yentob’s ‘Imagine’ series for the BBC, in which Yentob traces the meteoric rise of Chinese poster-boy pianist Lang Lang from child prodigy to international superstar.

Despite my dislike of Lang Lang (his playing and his manner in general), this is an interesting programme, if only for the dreadful pushiness of Lang Lang’s father – a lesson, perhaps, for all over-ambitious parents of talented children.

In an interesting piece of parallel programming, the film ‘Shine’, biopic about Australian pianist David Helfgott, whose downward spiral into mental illness has been attributed to his father’s attitude, was broadcast after the feature on Lang Lang. A moving and insightful film.

‘Do – or Die: Lang Lang’s Story’ on the BBC iPlayer


  1. Lang Lang – hard to be on the fence about him, isn’t it? I read his autobiography (which really no-one should write before age, oh I don’t know, 70 maybe) and you’re right – the most interesting part is the upbringing and extreme competitiveness of his culture. Was that you that tweeted something about him doing the Goldbergs? Yikes.

    • I’ve always found his performances to be very superficial, focussing on himself rather than the music. But I admire what he is doing to encourage children and young people to take up the piano and play music. Yes, I tweeted about him playing the Goldbergs – it just seemed wrong to see him with such philosophical repertoire…..

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