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Pianist | Rueibin Chen

  • Date:2023-03-03
Pianist | Rueibin Chen

Chinese Name: 陳瑞斌

Born: 1967

Place of Birth: Tainan City (Southern Taiwan)

Did You Know?

In 2012, Rueibin Chen played Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" in Los Angeles, USA. The piece had previously been used for the soundtrack of the 1980 film "Somewhere in Time," and as it happened, the lead actress of that very film, Jane Seymour, was in attendance at that performance.

Pianist Rueibin Chen, known as "Angel Fingers" in the European media, won his first piano competition playing Beethoven when he was six years old. At the age of 13, he went to Vienna, Austria, to study music. Traveling there without his family, Chen started almost everything from scratch, including German and music theory. But with amazing perseverance, he overcame the challenge and went on to become the youngest winner of the Rachmaninoff Piano Competition in Italy at the age of 16. Before the age of 20, Chen had won five gold medals or first prizes in many of the top international piano competitions.

Based on his outstanding performances in such competitions, Russian piano maestro Lazar Berman willingly accepted him as a student. For Chen, the process of learning from such a master was a rigorous undertaking, but also intensely stimulating, helping further tap into his potential. Rueibin Chen is a tremendous admirer of Berman, ranking him among his three most loved pianists. Whether in terms of musicality, romance, emotion, or talent, Berman is excellent. The biggest thing he got from studying under Berman, Chen says, was the chance to witness and be part of the long chain of piano knowledge being passed down through history. Berman's teacher was a classmate of Rachmaninoff, and Chen says that through Berman’s teaching, he was able to get a glimpse of the glory of music in the late Romantic period.

Having lived in Europe since childhood, Chen believes that being a pianist is not only about knowing how to play, but also about going deep into the history and culture. He visits museums frequently when he has free time, and he also visits the places composers had been in their lives to experience what they saw at that time and the moods that inspired their creations. "It's not that easy to play music well," says Chen.

On the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in 2018, the French government invited him to perform French works, many of which were composed by female musicians during the war. Chen was amazed by those women, who had to continue making a living during wartime and still managed to create art. Also, because of his understanding of culture, Chen believes that a performance is not just a performance, but must also capture and communicate cultural or historical meaning.

In addition to his classic repertoire of solo and orchestral concertos, Rueibin Chen is also committed to developing and premiering newly composed piano solos and concertos. The critically acclaimed new piano concerto "Love River (愛河)" presents his love for Taiwan's famous river; another newly composed piano concerto, "Wintry Night (寒夜)," contains a wealth of Hakka elements. Both have been performed by him around the world. Chen Ruibin has played these two pieces full of Taiwanese vibes at venues as far apart as the Lincoln Center and the Sydney Opera House. His mission is twofold—one, to present to Western audiences a combination of Eastern and Western musical elements, and two, to bring to them a sense of Taiwan. Many listeners from abroad have told him that listening to "Love River," beautiful images naturally appeared in their minds; meanwhile, many Taiwanese living overseas were brought to tears. He himself left his hometown when he was very young, and so he invests his playing of these pieces with tremendous feeling.

Chen has not only worked with symphony orchestras around the world, but is also often invited to perform at well-known international art festivals. As a classical pianist, as well as performing classical standards, he is also committed to creating new performances. Rueibin Chen has remarked that he enjoys crossover collaborations and impromptu live work. To this end, he has even attempted to collab with DJs, hoping to become a bridge between the classical and pop worlds.