Pianist Luu Hong Quang: Homeland – An integral part of the heart

NDO – Although busy with his training schedule and performing abroad, Luu Hong Quang stills spend the time to return to Vietnam each year because he believes that the homeland is an inseparable part of his heart. Quang cherishes a big dream of claiming a prestigious music award. On his chosen career path, he appears to be in the shadow of the artist Dang Thai Son - a hard, lonely path with a true love for music.


Pianist Luu Hong Quang granted an interview to the Thoi Nay (Today) publication of Nhan Dan (The People) Newspaper to talk more about his music career path.

Making true music

Opening in the concert "Evolution" at the Hanoi Opera House in 2018, performing famous works of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Skryabin, Ravel, Liszt, the classical love audiences have realised the change in your music world. You chose more subtly and deeper pieces of music. Why is there such a change?

The early years of my 20s were a time when I had a lot of creativity and was relatively independent in playing. I worked alone, without the close supervision of a teacher, so I just did what I thought was the best, sometimes improvised and was out of control. After finishing studying with People’s Artist Dang Thai Son, I went to find my own music path and fortunately I have recently been working with two professors.

Since October last year, many people have noticed the change and harmony in my style. It can be said that the change is thanks to the professor, who is of British descent so her taste is quite classic, bringing a “new wind” for me. I am very grateful to that professor, thanks to her, I have strengthened my belief that making true music is my path. Before that, I also cherished many plans, worked on projects and taught. But she told me that with my ability, I should follow my path and strive to perform and compete. When I was 28 years old, I graduated from graduate school and began working with People’s Artist Dang Thai Son and had students win prizes but I continued to go to school.

So, that means your learning-path has not yet stopped, and are you on a journey to conquer new pinnacles?

In January 2019, the British professor helped me get a full scholarship to attend a music festival in Australia, and to work with a top American professor. While there, I was predestined to meet an American-style professor. Currently, I am working with her once a month. I realised what is right for me, what is not, and what needs improvement. The most special feature today is the change in the portfolio of my performances, which tends to be in depth and sophisticated. In the past, I played many good works but mostly those that created effect for the audience. Now, I’m focusing on in-depth pieces of music.

With my job, learning is a lifetime goal, not just a short-term one.

It seems that you are always dissatisfied with yourself even though you have a reputation and have achieved a lot of success?

When I was young, I always did random things to my liking. I pursued a long learning path. Now I study even more energetically than before. Every day, in addition to teaching, I practice the piano to work with my teacher. At 11:00 pm I practice with a little electric piano which my students gave me, because in the area where I live, it is not permitted to play piano at night.

Thanks to the guidance of the two professors, I believe that in just a few more years, I will develop a new step. However, I can never allow myself to think "finish" is the end, I believe I can always be even better. It is very important for artists to improve themselves and criticise themselves.

But at the peak of their reputation, doesn’t everyone keep their sanity to always criticise themselves?

Everyone loves themselves and wants to be recognised as successful. For me, the greatest success is playing, teaching or doing anything related to music, I also do not compromise with poor quality products. Music is a job and music is a joy of life, these two opinions will lead to two completely different attitudes.

What is your opinion?

For me, music is probably life. I do not compromise with what is not right, although there are many difficulties I must still overcome. Every success has its price. I just focus on the core of the music, everything else will come. Investment, being strict with yourself is never redundant.

Luu Hong Quang’s big dreams

Reading the memoir of Pianist Lang Lang – one of the most famous pianists of the 20th century, I saw that behind that glory was hard work, tears and the pressures of fame. Do you see your shadow in it?

I studued Lang Lang’s hard work. I think that every success has its price. But I will not follow the path that Lang Lang walked. I have passed through the youth acclaimed as a talent of the people. I had both reputation and money. I have also witnessed countless stars rise and fall. The last remaining thing is whether you take the true music path or not? Do you love unconditional music? If anything happens, succeeds or fails, do you want to make music?

It is necessary to calmly answer all these questions before deciding to pursue the job. Because this job has too many temptations. But once you have identified then just move forward on that, do not hesitate anymore.

Are you dreaming of a Chopin Award – the most prestigious award for pianists? What inspired you about that big dream?

I am grateful to the two professors who taught me. They gave me the belief in my ability to develop further. My students’ parents often ask how their children can achieve success like me. I use the analogy: If a person throws a stone having only set a target of 10 m, the person will succeeded very easily, with no satisfaction or disappointment. If another wanted to throw a distance of 1,000 m, the person will use all his strength to throw, maybe he will not reach his goal of 1,000 m but he will surely cross the distance of 10 m.

Everyone wants to be a good performer, working with famous orchestras at illustrious concert halls. Those images are the motivation for me to train hard. Everyone has the right to dream, why not make it the most beautiful dream.

Talking to a lot of Vietnamese students, I find their problem is not daring to dream higher.

It is necessary to set goals, because youth passes very quickly. There is nothing wrong with setting a high goal and failing.

Every year, you spend time returning to Vietnam to perform and teach students even though you settled in Australia. What does Vietnam mean to your career development path?

I grew up in Hanoi. When I return here, I like to walk around Hanoi’s Old Quarter and reflect on my memories. Now Hanoi is more developed and more vibrant. The social context is suitable for business, but it is difficult for playing the piano. Some people are used to it, although I need a quiet space. But I still come back, my homeland is here, my parents are here, many fans are here. For me, the homeland is an integral part of my heart.

2020 is a special year celebrating the 250th birth anniversary of musical genius Beethoven. What are your plans?

It will be a busy year. On January 5, I returned to Vietnam for the first piano duet concert with my brother – Luu Duc Anh. We played Symphony No. 9 – the greatest masterpiece of Beethoven. I will then go on a tour with the French orchestra and conductor Francois Ragot at various venues in November. In this tour I will play Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ piano concerto. It is a great honour for me to play two great works of Beethoven and to perform to the Vietnamese and European public.

Thank you very much for the interview! We wish you peace and joy in the new year!

Luu Hong Quang was born into a family of artistic tradition. His father is Assoc. Prof. Dr. and Meritorious Artist Luu Quang Minh – one of the prestigious teachers in the field of performance and teaching of Accordion and Jazz in Vietnam. Luu Hong Quang is a student of People’s Artist Thu Ha. In 2007, he received a full scholarship from the Australian International Conservatorium of Music. Since 2008, Luu Hong Quang has won many awards at international piano competitions, such as the special prize at International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia in 2006, the first prize at the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition in Australia in 2011 and the second prize at the third Euregio Piano Award Competition in Geilenkirchen, Germany, in 2015. In 2015-2016, he enrolled in a master’s degree programme in piano performance with People’s Artist Dang Thai Son at the Music Conservatory in Montreal, Canada. Luu Hong Quang is currently teaching at the Academy of Music and performing Arts, Australia. He was awarded the third-class Labour Medal in 2011 and was named as one of Vietnam’s ten outstanding young faces in 2017.