Who is the most successful pianist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records? Who sells millions of his albums? Who was referred to as the Prince of Romance by Nancy Reagan? Whose concerts are always sold out, wherever he performs? No, this is not Jay Zhou, Justin Timberlake, or even less André Rieu, but instead the wonderful and charming French pianist Richard Clayderman.
Clayderman is most probably the most has-been pianist alive who regularly hits the news in China. Having started to perform here since about 15 years ago, he was in Beijing last Sunday, July 1st, to perform his 100th recital.
Born in 1953, Clayderman was enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music at the age of twelve. Four years later, he was placed first in a piano competition. When he launched his professional career, he opted for popular music over classical music. But Clayderman’s life changed dramatically in 1976, when he recorded the single Ballade pour Adeline, according to CCTV International. The album sold twenty million copies in 38 countries and since then, he received huge success. “A live concert, broadcast on Chinese television in 1987 attracted more than 800 million viewers”, says Answers.com.
CCTV states that Clayderman found his niche in the Chinese market: “His pieces are played extensively in public areas, elevators, lobbies, malls.” Oh, we guess nothing can be better than an audience that doesn’t really listen to you…
But the pianist, famous for “his gentlemanly charm and thick French accent” (gasp), also came to Beijing to mark the opening of his first piano school in China, named after what else but himself. He promised to come regularly to teach in person, and declared that he will write the textbooks himself. Apparently Clayderman’s popularity in China has fueled interest among Chinese children to master the piano. Many wish to become the next Clayderman; and their parents hope they will. We don’t.
Click here to see Richard Clayderman’s “Ballade pour Adeline”.