Lang Lang was born in the city of Shenyang, China in 1982. His father encouraged the boy’s instinctive musicality and organised his first piano lessons soon after his third birthday. Two years later, Lang Lang won the Shenyang Piano Competition and gave his first public performance. He enrolled at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music in 1991 to study with Professor Zhao Ping-Guo and won first prize in the 1993 Xinghai National Piano Competition in Beijing. After winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Japan, he moved with his father to Philadelphia two years later to study at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music with Gary Graffman.
Lang Lang's international career breakthrough came in dramatic fashion in 1999, when he joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for its "Gala of the Century" concert as a last-minute replacement soloist in Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. The sensational performance led to a succession of invitations to appear with leading orchestras and at the world's most prestigious venues. He made his debut at Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms and Wigmore Hall in 2001, and went on to forge lasting partnerships with conductors Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel and Simon Rattle. He achieved household-name status following his appearance at the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing, the same year in which he founded his charitable International Music Foundation to promote education, notably as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. In 2009, he performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for US President Barack Obama and took part in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2012. Since 2013 Lang Lang has been a UN Messenger of Peace, and in 2015 he helped build bridges between different musical cultures in Havana with legendary Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés as part of the city's 500th-anniversary celebrations. The following year he performed at the Vatican for Pope Francis and guests at the inaugural Global Conference of Faith and Sport.
Both Lang Lang’s artistry and his inspirational work have been recognised with numerous awards and honours: the 2010 Crystal Award in Davos, was named one of the 250 Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum, and received several honorary doctorates, notably from the Royal College of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and New York University. He has been awarded the highest prize given by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, and the highest civilian honours in Germany (Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) and France (Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters). Grammy-nominated, he is also the recipient of a Classic Brit award and several Echo Klassik prizes, while in February 2019 he was presented with an honorary Victoire de la Musique Classique, becoming the first Chinese musician ever to be given one of these prestigious awards.