Li Yundi
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
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

, 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
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist....

 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. He later studied at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover
Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover
Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover is an artistic-scientific university in Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany. It dates back to 1897. From 1962 until 2010 it was named Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hannover , short: Musikhochschule Hannover...

 in Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...



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
Missouri Southern International Piano Competition
The Missouri Southern Competition was a biannual international piano competition organized by the Missouri Southern State University first held in 1987. It was dissolved in 2008 following the retirement of its director, Vivian León....

 (Junior Division). The next year, he took Third Prize at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition
International Franz Liszt Piano Competition
The International Franz Liszt Piano Competition , a member of WFIMC, is an international piano competition.The Competition is held in Utrecht in the Netherlands. It first took place in 1986, one hundred years after the death of Franz Liszt...

 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
Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition
The Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and is the second largest piano competition in the United States....


In October 2000, at the urging of the Chinese Culture Ministry, Li participated in the 14th International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

. 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
Arie Vardi
Arie Vardi is an Israeli classical pianist and piano pedagogue.He is currently teaching at the Buhmann-Mehta Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover and at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine...

 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").

Performing and recording career

Li's debut in the United States took place in June 2003 at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

, as part of Steinway and Sons' 150th Anniversary Gala. His United States concerto debut took place the next month, when he performed Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

's Piano Concerto No. 1
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Chopin)
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, is a piano concerto written by Frédéric Chopin in 1830. It was first performed on 11 October of that year, in Warsaw, with the composer as soloist, during one of his "farewell" concerts before leaving Poland....

. 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
Liszt is a Hungarian surname. Notable persons with that surname include:* Franz Liszt , Hungarian composer and pianist* Adam Liszt , father of Franz Liszt* Anna Liszt , mother of Franz Liszt...

 for Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon is a German classical record label which was the foundation of the future corporation to be known as PolyGram. It is now part of Universal Music Group since its acquisition and absorption of PolyGram in 1999, and it is also UMG's oldest active label...

, 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
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

. His third recording, comprising Chopin's four Scherzi
A scherzo is a piece of music, often a movement from a larger piece such as a symphony or a sonata. The scherzo's precise definition has varied over the years, but it often refers to a movement which replaces the minuet as the third movement in a four-movement work, such as a symphony, sonata, or...

 and three Impromptu
An impromptu is a free-form musical composition with the character of an ex tempore improvisation as if prompted by the spirit of the moment, usually for a solo instrument, such as piano...

s, was released in late 2004. He has also given a recital in the renowned Musikverein in Vienna, performing works by Mozart, Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti
Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style...

, Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

, and Liszt.

Li obtained Hong Kong residentship in November 2006 under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme is a points-based immigration system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China...

, among 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
EMI Classics
EMI Classics is a record label of EMI, formed in 1990 in order to reduce the need to create country-specific packaging and catalogs for internationally distributed classical music releases....

 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 March 16, 2010. He played a repertoire of Chopin pieces to a sold-out crowd.


  • Complete Nocturnes (EMI Classics
    EMI Classics
    EMI Classics is a record label of EMI, formed in 1990 in order to reduce the need to create country-specific packaging and catalogs for internationally distributed classical music releases....


Chopin Recital
  • Piano Sonata in B minor No. 3 op. 58
  • Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante op. 22
  • Études op. 10 Nos. 2 + 5 op. 25 No. 11 »Winter Wind«
  • Nocturnes op. 9 Nos. 1 + 2 op. 15 No. 2
  • Impromptu op. 66

CD |D|D|D| 4714792

Franz Liszt
  • Piano Sonata in B minor
  • La Campanella
  • Widmung after Schumann: Liebeslied
  • Liebestraum No. 3
  • Tarantella from Venezia e Napoli
  • Rigoletto-Paraphrase

CD |D|D|D| 471 585–2
SACD |D|D|D| 474 2972
Awards: Echo Award 2003

Chopin: Scherzo & Impromptus
  • 4 Scherzi:
  • No. 1 op. 20 · No. 2 op. 31
  • No. 3 op. 39 · No. 4 op. 54
  • 3 Impromptus
  • No. 1 op. 29 · No. 2 op. 36
  • No. 3 op. 51

SACD |D|D|D| 474 8782
CD |D|D|D| 474 5162

Vienna Recital
  • Liszt: Rhapsodie espagnole
  • Mozart: Piano Sonata KV 330
  • D. Scarlatti: Sonatas K. 380 + K. 13
  • Schumann: Carnaval op. 9

CD |D|D|D| 477 557–1 |G|H|

Chopin & Liszt Piano Concerto No.1
  • Liszt: Concerto for piano no.1 in E-Flat,S.124
  • Chopin: Concerto for piano no.1 in E-minor,op.11

CD |D|D|D| 00289 477 6402 |G|H|

Prokofiev/Ravel: Piano Concertos
  • Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor
  • Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major

CD |D|D|D| 477 659–3 |G|H|

Yundi – The Young Romantic
  • Frédéric Chopin: Scherzo in B minor, op.20 Scherzo in B flat minor, op.31 Scherzo in C sharp minor, op.39 Scherzo in E major, op.54; Franz Liszt: Grandes Études de Paganini: La Campanella
  • Bonus: Yundi Li plays at La Roque d’Anthéron

DVD 3079058 EuroArts/Ideale Audience

External links

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