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Clayderman still in tune with his audience

By CHEN NAN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-09 08:18
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Clayderman's music can still be widely heard in China today, in shopping malls, restaurants and hotel lobbies.

Recently, he reached a younger audience by performing Hedwig's Theme, composed by John Williams for the Harry Potter film series, during the year-end gala broadcast on Chinese live streaming platform Bilibili on New Year's Eve. It received a warm feedback.

Born in Paris, where he still lives, Clayderman learned to play piano with his father, an accordion teacher, at the age of 5. At 12, he was enrolled to study at the Conservatoire de Paris and graduated in 1969.

In his 40-year career, Clayderman has sold more than 60 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling French musicians in history. Clayderman has 70 platinum discs to his name.

When he first toured China, the country was transforming with economic reforms and opening-up. Besides live performances, his music has been frequently broadcast on radio and television. Classical music was still in its infancy in the country when he first toured here and piano was considered a symbolic instrument of classical music then.

"I was impressed by his posters and the pictures on the cover of his albums. He looked very gentle and handsome," recalls Chinese pianist Yuan Fang, who was born in Shenzhen in 1982, started learning piano at the age of 4. She moved to Beijing to join the middle school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music in 1993, a year after Clayderman's debut in the capital.

"The melodies of Clayderman are easy to understand, delightful and beautiful. Some of my classmates learned to play his pieces," Yuan says. "We grew up with his music."

Yuan, who studied with German pianist Gerhard Oppitz while majoring in piano and chamber music at Munich's University of Music and Performing Arts, notes that one of Clayderman's major contributions is that "he inspired many Chinese people to get to know, and learn to play, the piano".

Clayderman fondly recalls his earliest interactions with Chinese audiences and his success in the country. "There were numerous moments which moved me, for instance, thousands of concert goers standing in the rain during open shows, young kids and their parents waiting in the cold wind outside theaters just to say hello to me. I feel grateful to all of them and love to perform for them. I was the lucky one chosen by history."

Having witnessed the fast development of China over the past 30 years, Clayderman, with his enduring popularity, also has cooperated with some Chinese classical musicians and is involved in music education in China.

He still practices for two hours every day, even during his tours.

"When I meet problems, I keep on practicing. I may fail in the first practice, and also in the second and third, but after 10 or 20 days, I will succeed. This is the experience I want to share with youngsters," he says.

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