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Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story par [Lang, Lang, David Ritz]
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Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story Format Kindle

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Longueur : 258 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
Page Flip: Activé Langue : Anglais

Descriptions du produit



The Cultural Revolution, which spread over a decade beginning in 1966, had an enormous impact on practically every person in China. I was born on June 14, 1982, some six years after the Revolution had ended, and I still felt its enormous reverberations. The Revolution was a large-scale, society-wide social and political upheaval in which all students and intellectuals, including musicians and artists, were sent away from the cities to labor on farms and learn from the peasants. Millions of professionals were forced to leave their homes. China was to be self-reliant and was closed to the West.

When I was around seven years old, I began asking my mother questions about our family's past. One night, while my father was at his job policing the nightclubs and entertainment district of Shenyang, and after I had completed my long practice session on the piano, my mother sat down next to me, handing me slices of fresh oranges and a glass of cool water. It didn't take much prodding to get her to start talking about her youth.

I loved listening to my mother's stories. Because she had been a singer and an actress at her school, she spoke theatrically, with bubbly enthusiasm and great dramatic pauses. As she told me the story of her life, and my father's, and how their lives intertwined, music in my head accompanied each tale--ever since I can remember, I have had a kind of soundtrack playing in my head, accompanying my life's most memorable moments. I heard etudes and concertos, sonatas and great symphonies. I heard the harmonies and counterpoints. I heard the action of the music. To me, music was action. And my parents' lives were action packed, the stuff of drama and thrilling music.

"Music," said my mother, "was an early love in my life. Music always lifted my spirits and brought me joy."

Mom told me how, when she was four, her parents moved the family--her and her three brothers--from Dandong on the coast of North Korea to Shenyang in the north of China, where her father worked as a highly skilled technician in an iron plant and her mom became a bookkeeper. Her grandfather loved to sing songs from the Peking opera, so music filled the house.

"What about my grandmother?" I asked. "Why don't I know her?"

"She died of a lung disease when I was young."

"How young?" I asked.

"I was nine."

My heart started beating like crazy--I was suddenly terrified. "Will you die when I become nine?"

"Oh no, darling," she assured me. "I'll always be here with you."

"Were you scared?" I asked.

"Yes, I was afraid. Being the only daughter, I was so close to my mother. Losing her hurt a great deal. I was afraid of living without her."

"Then what happened?"

"The world went on," said my mother. "The world always goes on."

Her father excelled at his job in the ironworks factory. He invented a device that improved manufacturing efficiency, and he was rewarded accordingly. My mother went to school and did well; they were all bright students in her family. At school, she began acting in little plays, singing, and dancing. Then, in 1966, came the Cultural Revolution--and everything changed.

Mom's paternal grandfather was a landlord, even though my mother had never seen this "land." Though her father was a successful inventor and invaluable technician at the ironworks factory, he was now considered untrustworthy and was supervised closely. Rumors circulated that my grandfather was conspiring against the Cultural Revolution. Of course, the rumors were false, but they persisted. To protect Mom and her brothers from worry, her father never mentioned any of this. They only found out when a friend came to their house one day and cried out, "They have your father in the fools' parade!" My mother didn't even know what that meant, but of course she ran outside to see. On the street, a group of men was being forced to march from the factory, her father among them. They were all wearing dunces' hats and holding up big cards with words Mom didn't understand. She wanted to run to him, but he was surrounded by guards. That night her father didn't return home. She wept like an infant. When he finally showed up the next morning, she ran to him. "Why are they doing this to you?" she demanded. "Have you made a mistake?" "I have made no mistake," said my grandfather. "I have done nothing wrong. But these are changing times with new people in charge who persecute me even though they don't know me."

Her father was reinstated at the factory but was demoted, and he was no longer recognized or respected. My mother felt the community's contempt most keenly in school. Her classmates were being chosen to serve in the Red Guard, which was an honor for young boys and girls. Those selected wore a special red scarf, but because of her father Mom was forbidden to wear one. She was a good singer, though, so despite their scorn, they wanted her to perform for the school. During her performances, she was given the red scarf to wear, but when they were over, the scarf was taken from her. Boys from her school would chase her down the hall and curse at her. They never expected her to answer them, but she always did. She cursed them right back. She may have been wounded by their hatred, but she was not shy or weak. She had dreams and ambitions.

"What kinds of dreams, Mother?" I asked.

"Dreams of joining a professional dance or music group. Dreams of acting. When I was on that stage, it didn't matter what anyone thought of me--up there, I was invincible."

Mom had imagination and talent. She could feel the story behind the lyrics of songs and make that story come alive. She could transform herself into different characters. She could lose herself in a costume drama, or a song from another century, or a choreography arranged decades before her birth. Onstage she felt free, and she had high hopes of becoming a professional. The military recruited actresses and singers to entertain the troops of the People's Liberation Army. At that time, the military was the most important power, and to play before the generals was the biggest honor. My mother had every reason to believe that she would be chosen. Her teachers recommended her highly. Her colleagues all said she was the number one actress, dancer, and singer in her school. And yet she was rejected.

"My father's family were landlords, and landlords--even the granddaughters of landlords--could not be trusted during the Revolution," my mother told me. "My schooling ended, and so did my dreams . . ." My mother and her three brothers were sent away from their father--my mother to work on a farm, and her brothers to labor in different villages. One of her brothers was a talented Peking Opera singer, but his career was ended during the Revolution.

I loved listening to my mother talk. Inevitably, though, her stories would come to an end, and she would tell me to go practice. I was working on pieces by Chopin and Liszt that other students didn't attempt until they were thirteen or fourteen, and I was excited by the challenge. But as my fingers moved over the keys, my mind would move over the stories my mother had told me about my family. I was proud that she hadn't allowed the boys in her school to intimidate her. I was grateful for her strength, and I believed she was the artist she had hoped to become. I practiced to make up for her missed opportunities, until I conquered the music just as she had conquered her enemies. The music became a soundtrack to a movie about my mother.

At our small dinner table, she served me the food I loved best, hot dumplings and sauerkraut with pork. My father worked late, so she and I would often eat alone, and I would urge her to continue her stories.

She told me how she and my father had met in 1977, when they were both twenty-four years old. The Cultural Revolution had ended, and because of her excellent work on the farmland she was allowed to return to Shenyang. She had just begun her job as a telephone operator at the Institute of Science, and my father was working at a factory during the day. But my father's dream was to become a professional musician. He played the erhu, a two-stringed fiddle, the most popular traditional instrument in China, which in a traditional orchestra plays a similar role to the violin in a Western orchestra. Although his dream to enter the music conservatory had not been realized because the conservatories had been closed during the Cultural Revolution, he had found part-time work playing with an acrobatic circus band, and sometimes he traveled with them. But the job wasn't stable.

On their first date, my father took my mother to the movies to see a Russian film. Afterward, he told his friends that he was 100 percent satisfied with her appearance and her personality.
I asked my mother if she had been 100 percent satisfied with my father.

"I can't say I was--certainly not at first. My ideal man was a little taller, a little more dashing than your father, more talkative, and with a warmer personality. And a little more established in his line of work."

I asked if my grandfather liked him, and Mother couldn't help but laugh. She told me how her father had warned her, saying, "This man has no future, no profession. You will not be satisfied with him." My grandfather forbade my mother to date my father, but my dad was persistent. He kept asking my mother out. In spite of her father's disapproval, she agreed to meet Dad secretly on several occasions. One evening when she came home, her father spotted Dad walking her to the door. Infuriated, my grandfather slapped my mother across the face. According to Mom, this was the only time her father ever raised a hand to her.

After that, she stopped seeing my father, but it was as much his own doing...

Revue de presse

“The hottest artist on the classical music planet may well be the Chinese pianist Lang Lang…the darling of fans worldwide.”
The New York Times

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2152 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 258 pages
  • Editeur : Spiegel & Grau (15 juillet 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B001C4NXKW
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.3 étoiles sur 5 74 commentaires
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 . The price to be paid for excellence 11 septembre 2015
Par Chicago Burbs - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Traditionally, iconic musicians arose by winning international competitions and justifying managers like Sol Hurok (who represented Artur Rubinstein) to promote their life-long careers. Lang Lang is a thirty-something concert pianist who has proved his excellence by winning the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition (like Van Cliburn). He travels the world, gives master classes and plays concerts. Like most modern performers, he builds audiences via YouTube and sells recordings via Amazon.
Lang Lang's career started almost in infancy and this was, to me, the most interesting part of the book for two reasons: How would you handle a child like this? How did it happen that ordinary Chinese people knew so much about 19th century western music such that there was no problem finding teachers for him? Lang Lang had a demanding father whose only aim was to make him "number one" and a never-present mother who worked to pay the bills. He has never had, and will never have, a normal life. But, neither did other historic prodigies, like Mozart and Artur Rubinstein. This is what we do with our most gifted children and it's a miracle when they become well-adjusted adults.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Powerful insights for young musicians 26 mars 2012
Par George R. Collison - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Having read many of the reviews posted here I must say I'm much more deeply informed about the book and also about the background of musical training in China. I cannot give it five stars for the prose; I will give it five stars for the level of insight the volume brings to all levels of young musician. I strongly recommend it.

The posts by the reviews with Asian backgrounds were particularly informative. This remarkable young man was only 22 at the time of publication of this volume. For young musicians it is a must read. The sentence structure is simple, vocabulary is not large. Two thirds of the way through one discovers, while studying at Curtis, he had received virtually no training in Beijing outside of music. History, beyond the confines of the Communist Chinese cannon, was unknown to him. Lang Lang devoured books on military and political history while at Curtis. He knew nothing about the worlds inhabited by Bach, Beethoven, Liszt and the other authors of this non-Chinese musical universe. He had no exposure to Western literature, and minimal exposure to Eastern writings beyond fables of the Monkey King. The concentration on piano must have been exceptionally intense; so far so obvious. What fascinates me is the volume of knowledge that was pushed to the side. The intensity of the study boggles the mind. I was also fascinated by how the spirit of this young man was able to fill so many holes, perhaps a Western term, in his education.

Several Asian commentators highlighted the relationship with his father and the cathartic effect writing this book must have had for Lang Lang. He must have intended the volume as a mirror for other families engaged in this process. I must give him kudos for both this intention and the actual text he wrote. It is powerful. There are probably audiences that badly need this book that won't read it. I'm thinking of parents of those young girls in beauty pageants; these cathedrals of vanity take over lives of any that enter. There seem to be countless other bastions we place around our talented, and untalented young, allegedly to "help them". Lang Lang was most fortunate to break through his to find the shining light of day. Mr. Graffman in later chapters punctures most effectively the vanity of "winning competitions" and "being number one". His advice and world view is most welcome.

I am a big fan of Lang Lang. On hearing a concert I could only state that "this young man knows what freedom is". His playing of Liszt exudes energy and a passion for liberty in every bar.

If you want reminiscences of a great pianist at the end of life, buy another book. If you want insights into the life of young artists in the current intense global competition, savor this one.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 anything can be endured if a child knows he is loved. He knew his parents loved him 26 octobre 2014
Par Lawson Book Worm - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is a touching and endearing story of a little Chinese boy's journey to become what was expected in the culture of that time, to be "number one", winning competition after competition. Later, when he went to Curtis Institute in the U.S., he was taught that it is the process to greatness that is the most important. Hard work to succeed is vital, but it is balance in a person's life that sustains a career. His father recognizes that he was abusive, and it grieves him. His mother's sacrifices to provide support was hard for a little boy to understand but, as Lang Lang said, once, anything can be endured if a child knows he is loved. He knew his parents loved him. Themes of love, hard work, honesty and healing run throughout this lovely little book. His parents remain an integral part of his career and life, and he is not only a brilliant pianist, but he gives back to society in his home country and abroad. Quite a testimony.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Lang Lang AJourney of a Thousand Miles 24 avril 2017
Par cynthia gunkle - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I loved the book. It was well written and inspiring. As a pianist I know the work and heart that goes into playing piano well. I love Lang Lang's cheerful story.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The world needs more humans like Lang Lang 16 novembre 2015
Par poodlegirl - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Very insightful and a very heartfelt book. People are often critical of his emotions and gestures when playing. Read this book so you can understand the complex nature of this artist. Thank goodness someone finally took the stiffness out of classical piano! My impression was that he is a very gentle soul and genuine. I met him three weeks ago and he is a very kind and lovely man. The world needs more humans like Lang Lang. If you play like I do his book is also an inspiration. Keep some kleenex close by, you will need it.
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