“I started playing the piano when I was only a year old, though my lessons began at age four,” says Kuan-Ting Lin. “The instrument was like a toy for me. My mother likes music very much, and she would play the piano or the radio every day for me. So, where I lived, the air was always filled with music. It feels natural and good.”
What’s his happiest memory from those early years? “I remember when I would play the piano for my grandparents, they would be all smiles, and tell me how much they enjoyed the music. That proved to be a strong incentive for me, and I’ve had this strong motivation to play beautiful music for all of the people in the world.”
Born in Taipei, Lin moved to Russia with his mother when he was 14, eventually studying at the Moscow Conservatory. In 2011 he shared the top prize in the Eighth International Competition for Young Pianists in St. Petersburg (also known as “A Step Toward Mastery”). In 2009, he won second place in the Vladimir Viardo Competition in Ukraine.
The weather in Moscow can be cold, says Lin, especially for a young man “from a sub-tropical country.” But he likes going to Moscow’s art museums, plays badminton (indoors, we hope!), and enjoys chess and watching movies with his sister. “And I like to cook for my family, too.”
Franz Liszt is his favorite composer, he says: “His works are vibrant and lovely, both bold and flamboyant. He established the tradition of virtuosity and the brilliant style of performing in the 19th century.” Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter is the 20th-century pianist he most admires—and he’s quick to say why.
“Through his music, he could fill a concert hall with his passion. He was able to absorb the wisdom of those before him and turn that into his own style. He is such a role model….He always had his strong views but was not stubborn. He knew just how to see a new life in a long tradition and recreate perfection with his two hands.”
Lin says he’s really looking forward to his first visit to Texas—and the United States, for that matter.
“How I wish I could speak English as fluently as I speak Russian!” he said. But he hopes “to make new friends in Texas” and have the chance to hear young musicians from all over the world. “I’m sure the experience [of the competition] will help me grow as a pianist.”
He is also very proud to represent his home country of Taiwan.
“Taiwan is quite isolated diplomatically, because of its complicated relationship with China,” Lin says. “So every time someone from Taiwan gets any kind of international recognition, people there are very happy. And I’m very glad that by being chosen to compete this time, I’m giving my countrymen a reason to feel upbeat.”
Kuan-Ting Lin's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Repertoire
Preliminary Recital, Phase I
HAYDN Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob XVI:52
SCHUBERT-LISZT Gretchen am Spinnrade
LISZT From Années de Pèlerinage, Book I
LISZT Au bord d’une source
LISZT Vallée d’Obermann
Preliminary Recital, Phase II
SCHUMANN Humoresque in B-flat Major, op. 20
STRAVINSKY Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka
LISZT Mephisto Waltz No. 1
SCRIABIN Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp Minor, op. 19 “Sonata-Fantasy”
RAVEL Gaspard de la nuit
DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet in A Major, op. 81
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, op. 18
◊ To see a slideshow of all of the competitors, with bios and links to our profiles of them, click here.