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Idolizing Beethoven, blind pianist sees world through playing music

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-01 09:41
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Xiong Linghao plays in the final of the 13th Shanghai International Youth Piano Competition in Shanghai last week. CHINA DAILY

Xiong Linghao, a visually impaired young woman who started learning the piano at age 6, said her idol is Ludwig van Beethoven, who began to suffer from hearing problems in his 20s and later went completely deaf.

Their physical challenges led both of them to establish a connection with the world through music, said the 18-year-old from Mianyang, Sichuan province, who was born premature and lost her eyesight in early infancy due to a medical accident.

"The piano is my best friend," said Xiong, who was in Shanghai last week to participate in the national final of the 13th Shanghai International Youth Piano Competition, where she played a Beethoven sonata. "The piano has accompanied me throughout my ups and downs in its own way. It brings so much pleasure into my life and empowers me with perseverance."

Xiong was honored with the Special Jury Prize and was invited to the stage to give a performance during Saturday's closing ceremony of the competition held by the China Association of Social Economic and Cultural Exchange.

"I never pursued prizes or fame while learning music. Instead, I was totally compelled by my natural love for the piano," explained Xiong, a high school student at the Chengdu Special Education School. "Like Beethoven, I wanted to express hope, emotions and passion for life through the piano in adverse conditions."

A video clip of Xiong playing during the competition, published on Friday on China Daily's Sina Weibo account, was viewed more than 7 million times, and many internet users said they were touched by Xiong's bravery and optimism.

"When fate kisses her with sorrows, she repays it with songs of praise," one comment on the post read.

"This is the song to salute life. She lights up the darkness in front of her with music," read another.

Xiong's mother discovered her daughter had a talent for music early in her childhood. At age 3, she could play children's songs on a small electric piano at home.

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