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Lang Lang sees characters in music: ‘Bach is a Transformer, Mozart is Mickey Mouse!’

6 September 2020, 10:04 | Updated: 7 September 2020, 14:27

Lang Lang: ‘Bach is a Transformer, Mozart is Mickey Mouse!’
Lang Lang: ‘Bach is a Transformer, Mozart is Mickey Mouse!’. Picture: Getty

The great pianist on how he “sees” colours in music, and which composers still remind him of his favourite childhood animated characters.

Star pianist Lang Lang has revealed the wonderfully colourful connections going on in his mind, when he plays on the concert stage.

In an episode of Moira Stuart Meets… on Classic FM, airing this Sunday 6 September at 9pm, the world-famous musician took Moira back to some of his earliest memories of classical music.

“I was a big fan of animation,” he admits. “I saw many animated films with classical music including Tom and Jerry and Monkey King, so that’s how I started to know about some of the classical music and Chinese folk music.

“In the beginning of my childhood, I thought playing music is like playing characters. And I see characters when I hear music. It’s all connected.

“I often compare Bach to Transformers, and Beethoven to some sort of very angry character, and Mozart as Mickey Mouse. I’m always trying to find some characters to fit into the composers.”

Read more: Lang Lang: 'In our world, music lessons have become a real challenge' >

The pianist also reveals how he “sees” colours in music. “G major is a very warm yellow. Like the Goldberg Variations, that’s what I see. An early sunrise.”

He goes on to say that D major is blue, while A minor is more of “a purple colour”.

It was a childhood dream for Lang Lang, to record Bach’s monumental keyboard work. To celebrate its release, which is out now on Deutsche Grammophon, Lang Lang played a special performance for fans on Friday, from a historic Temple in Beijing.

In the exclusive interview for Classic FM, Moira and Lang Lang also discuss the music by Mozart that ignited his love of the piano, and his collaborations with names from Herbie Hancock and Andrea Bocelli to Seiji Ozawa.

Listen to Moira Stuart Meets… Lang Lang this Sunday 6 September at 9pm.