Chinese pianist Lang Lang has told CNBC that the Chinese place great importance on winning competitions – a fact that proved detrimental to the beginning of his career.
Following a musical education at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Lang performed in Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2001.
However, the Chinese were not initially pleased with Lang's appearance with the famed American musical institution.
"I still remember my really awkward first press conference in Beijing at the end of May 2001," Lang told 'CNBC Meets' Tania Bryer. "This was four years after I moved to study in America. So, first question: why do you think Philadelphia Orchestra is choosing you to come back with them? What did you do in America?
"I said, 'Nothing much, I was studying.' 'Why you didn't win any big prize?' Or in the past four years, why you didn't go to any major competitions? Why do you care about being a good student?'"
Lang said that as a child prodigy, the Chinese press expected him to have won numerous awards by the time he returned for his first concert in 2001. Lang said he told the press at the time," I realised competition is not everything and my teacher told me to focus on developing a big repertoire and that's my plan.
"And they (the press) said, 'But how can the Philadelphia Orchestra take you if nobody knows you?' I said, 'You know, I don't want to talk about it. I just want to play a good concert.' So it was really difficult."