I’ve been adjudicating a couple of prizes recently at music colleges. As usual these days, some of the most striking performances have been provided by musicians from China, Korea and Japan. I’m starting to get used to the excellence of their contributions, but from time to time I find myself just gazing at them and thinking how amazed Beethoven, or Schubert, or Mendelssohn would be if they could sit beside me and hear their compositions played by young musicians from China.
I wonder when their music was first played in the Far East, and by whom? I know very little about this subject, but I assume it’s quite a recent phenomenon. It already seems remarkable enough to me that young players from the other side of the world now think it’s normal to go and study in London. Even more remarkably, they can step confidently forward and play European music of several hundred years ago as if they had been speaking its language all their life.