Imagine - Do or Die: Lang Lang's Story

10:35pm Monday 12 November on BBC ONE

From child prodigy to global phenomenon, Alan Yentob reveals the extraordinary life of Lang Lang, China’s classical music superstar.

With sell-out concerts around the world and a growing popularity that reaches far beyond traditional classical audiences, Lang Lang has redefined the concept of the celebrity concert pianist. His expressive style of playing has at times drawn some criticism but his ability to connect with a younger generation has played a significant role in inspiring over 40 million Chinese children to take up the piano.

In this feature-length documentary, Imagine explores the personal story behind the ‘Lang Lang phenomenon’. It is a story that began with extreme hardship and a dream kindled by Lang Lang’s parents during the bitter years of the Cultural Revolution. The dream soon became an obsession, however, and threatened not only to tear the family apart but nearly ended in tragedy. Despite these difficulties, Lang Lang’s prodigious musical talent and his determination from a young age has led him from China’s industrial city of Shenyang to the height of international fame and recognition as one of the world’s most successful virtuoso pianists.

Now in his 30th year, in the auspicious ‘Year of the Dragon’, he undertakes an epic world tour that includes Shanghai, Beijing, Berlin, London and New York. He plays for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Concert, opens his own piano school in China, performs at Carnegie Hall in New York, celebrates his birthday in Berlin (sharing the stage with 50 children), and becomes the first classical musician to headline at Latitude in Suffolk, to rapturous applause from the festival crowd. Imagine profiles a musician at the height of his powers, who, with inspirational talent and an exuberant personality, is bringing new audiences to classical music.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1