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Renowned pianist Zhu Xiaomei on tour in China

By Mei Jia | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-09-10 09:16

Legendary pianist Zhu Xiaomei is on tour in China. The Shanghai-born artist is based in Paris and enjoys worldwide acclaim for her presentation of Bach, especially The Goldberg Variations.

Zhu remains devoted to music. She shuns media and keeps a low-profile and simple lifestyle.

Born in 1949 into a family of with a solid music tradition, she came onto the world stage when she was 45, giving her debut concert in Paris. In later years, she got a chance to perform the Variations in St Thomas Church in Germany, Bach's resting place, which is deemed a great honor among Bach's followers.

Zhu combines her understanding of the ancient Chinese philosophy of Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi to her interpretation of Bach, noting Bach means "water" in German. 

"I love the way Bach is being balanced in his creations. His works seem to impose nothing on others, while keeping strong emotions restrained when being conveyed to his audience," Zhu said in a seaside theater near Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei province, on the first stop of her tour.

"Chinese artists, in this sense, could do justice to Bach's music," she added.

She also writes in her autobiography, "The Goldberg Variations completely took over my existence. This music contained everything: it had all one needed to live. The first variation gave me courage. I smiled when I rehearsed the tenth, which is playful; I sang to the thirteenth, whose musical line soothes me like no other work. The polonaise rhythm of the twenty-fourth had me dancing, and I meditated during the fifteenth and twenty-fifth, two of the three variations in minor keys: they moved me to tears. Then there is the thirtieth, the famous Quodlibet that I understand as a sort of hymn to the glory of the world. The more I practiced it, the more it amazed me." 

Zhu's returned China for her first concert in 2014 when she was 65, which was an instant success. Her primary focus for this tour is to share and educate, especially younger performers and piano learners. She will go on to Shanghai and other cities.

"The kids and young people here really have given me a wonderful surprise with their knowledge and devotion to music," Zhu said.

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