A Passion for Piano: Catching Up with Maxim Lando
Pianist Maxim Lando appeared on Show 283, recorded in Boston in February 2014, at age 11. Since then, he has gone on to do great things with his music, including a special collaboration with Lang Lang, and winning major competitions. Recently, we chatted with him about his inspirations, favorites, and plans for the future.
Q: What made you choose to play the piano?
A: My parents run a music conservatory and I was practically born there. My mom is a pianist and my dad is a clarinetist. When I was a baby, I spent hours a day listening to my mom teach her students. Apparently I cried or made a fuss every time they sounded less than beautiful, and eventually my mom grew frustrated enough to kick me out of her teaching room. She asked another teacher at the school to play some musical games on the piano with me, which I loved. I also started going to concerts, and listening in the car (I guess we were always driving around) to numerous recordings of the great masters playing piano, violin, and clarinet. I’ve always been surrounded by music, and from a very young age I knew what I wanted to do with my life: to be a pianist!
Q: Favorite musical moment?
A: I have had so many exceptional musical moments, so it is hard to pick one. A competition I did in Russia this past December really was a unique experience for me. For years I have loved watching old documentaries of past Tchaikovsky Competitions, to the point that I have pretty much memorized every moment that was recorded. So when I learned that the final round of this competition was held in the Tchaikovsky Hall of Moscow, I was very excited – and of course I had to play a Tchaikovsky Concerto. Another really exciting surprise was that the whole competition was televised live to millions of viewers in Russia. I made some new friends during the competition, and the other competitors were really amazing pianists. It was an amazing experience!
Q: What was it like to work with Lang Lang?
A: It has been a blast to work with Lang Lang these past two years. Lang Lang is completely inspirational, fun, full of knowledge, and he has this fantastic energy that rubs off on everyone. He has also helped me through his Foundation in so many ways, providing me with opportunities to travel around the world to perform and study. Probably what really inspires me most, is how Lang Lang has managed to bring entire new audiences to classical music – especially kids. Sometimes I think more kids know who Lang Lang is than Chopin or Liszt – but then those same kids start listening and getting into Mozart and Chopin, which is really fantastic!
Q: What do you see for yourself in the future?
A: I love performing, and I just want to be the best musician I can be, and perform as much as possible. I would especially love to play for people who don’t usually come to concerts, and have them walk away after the concert feeling really happy and satisfied. I guess I want everyone to feel the same excitement, beauty and electricity in classical music that I feel.
Q: What do you like to do outside of music?
A: I love to travel around the world, meet new people, spend time with old friends, read, play ping pong, and eat great food.
Q: Any advice to other young musicians like yourself?
A: My only advice is to stick to what you love to do. If you believe in your passion, work hard, and have self confidence, I think you can do anything.
Q: Favorite piece?
A: This is a very hard question to answer! Each day depending on my mood, I have a different favorite piece.
Q: And /or favorite composer?
A: I definitely don’t have one favorite composer. Of course I LOVE the music of all the great composers: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff…but for some reason I am especially drawn into the music of the Romantic composers. There is something about the Romantic style, the singing melodies, and the lush harmonies that just pull me right in. I think I am driving my teachers crazy though – I keep obsessing over one Romantic piece after another.
Q: What was your favorite part about being on NPR’s From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley?
A: I loved EVERYTHING about From the Top! Of course the live show and being on the radio for half a million people was one of the biggest highlights, but so was meeting and becoming friends with all of the other performers. Being on From the Top was incredibly motivating for me, and after the show I just wanted to perform even more. I loved the focus of bringing music everywhere and showing new audiences that classical music can be electrifying. I really could not be more grateful to have been on the show and I hope I will get another chance to be on in the future!
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Music is awesome! If we spent more time seeing how similar we all are through things like music and the arts, there would be less fighting and the world would be a better place.
To listen to Maxim on Show 283 and learn more about him, click here.