LONDON, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Chinese pianist Li Yundi is to start his European tour this spring. Although he plays around the world every year, this time the tour means something special to him.
"It is the first time I play Beethoven in European tour," he told Xinhua. "I have never played his music in European concert halls for the public."
Li's tour will start on March 18, ending in Berlin on May 14 en route Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, London, Liverpool, Moscow, Strasbourg, among others.
The interview was made when he came to London for preparation. Wearing a black T-shirt for his upcoming flight journey, Li was handsome and eloquent.
"The music of Beethoven is philosophical, with dramatic effects," he said. "I am 30 now, mature enough to understand and interpret Beethoven's works."
Born in China's southwestern Chongqing Municipality, Li was the youngest pianist to win the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in 2000, at the age of 18.
Li fell in love with music when he was very young. "Granny told me that I liked to listen to the radio as a kid," he said.
Few people know that the first musical instrument Li played was accordion. He shifted to piano when he was seven.
"Many famous musicians left masterpieces for piano, like Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, etc," he said. "Judging from the number of masterpieces, piano was obviously the 'king of musical instruments'," he said.
Admittedly piano has its drawbacks. "Its sound is not long and lasting like violin, but musicians could make up for this with their techniques."
People always think of Chopin at the mentioning of Li because of his award, which had produced no winner for 15 years.
"I began to practice Chopin systematically as preparation for the contest," he said.
About Chopin he could talk on and on. "He is the only composer whose works were all made for piano," he said.
"He is a musical poet, a patriot whose ideas bore resemblance with the traditional Chinese culture," he said.
As for Chopin's music, Li described it as "delicate and perfect, always making people think."
Many Chinese pianists could play Chopin's works very well, like veteran pianist Fu Cong and Chen Sa, who finished fourth at the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition.
"Chinese culture, with the poems and literature, forms a natural affinity with Chopin and helps people understand him better," Li explained.
According to Li, Chopin was very young when he started composing, roughly the same age as Li when the latter rose to stardom.
Twelve years later, Li is 30, the age of "standing up firmly and independently" in Confucius's view.
"Musician's performances are affected by his life experience. It is a process," he said.
Now Li believed himself ready to decode the thought of Beethoven. In his new album, he played the Moonlight, Pathetique and Appassionata.
"These are very romantic works, symbolizing the composer's transformation," Li added.
Li now has 70 to 80 performances a year, with about six or seven years on the tour. Every day he practices for four hours.
In his spare time, the man said he liked to do physical exercise and drink tea so as to relax. "I don't go out much," he said. "I perform and talk too much for work. So I just want to enjoy some tranquility at home."
Now idol for many youngsters in China, Li said he had responsibility.
"There are 4 million children learning piano in China," he said. "I want to do something for them to realize their dreams."
He also want to convey a message to the parents that learning piano is not necessarily for becoming a pianist.
"Whatever they do in the future, they could have piano as a confidant," he said. "When feeling unhappy, they could play piano, and be grateful for having such a good companion."