Li Yundi: China’s ‘prince of piano’ arrested for soliciting sex worker

Li Yundi, 39, and a 29-year-old woman, were detained by the police of Chaoyang district in Beijing, China on Thursday night. Li Yundi has been detained for soliciting a sex worker, state media has reported.
Police in China’s capital Beijing say famed international pianist Li Yundi is a suspect in a prostitution case. (AP)
Police in China’s capital Beijing say famed international pianist Li Yundi is a suspect in a prostitution case. (AP)
Updated on Oct 22, 2021 02:47 PM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

A celebrated Chinese pianist Li Yundi has been detained for soliciting a sex worker, state media has reported. Li Yundi, 39, and a 29-year-old woman, were detained by the police of Chaoyang district in Beijing on Thursday night.

They admitted to the “illegal behaviour” and have been placed under administrative detention, the district police were quoted as saying by local media.

Li Yundi, a national icon, wasn’t initially identified by the police who made public the news of the arrest through a cryptic post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

A Weibo post written by the Beijing police on Thursday night, which carried the picture of a piano keyboard, said: “This world is indeed more than black and white, but black and white must be distinguished apart. Make no mistake...”

People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China later identified Li Yundi as the person picked up by the police.

Li is a celebrity in China where learning piano is hugely popular among children and youth.

Li was the youngest pianist, at 18, to win the XIV International Chopin Piano Competition in 2000. In 2015, he served as a judge for the competition.

Besides performing across the world, the pianist had also performed several times at China’s national broadcaster, CCTV’s annual Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, Gala, an annual show watched by hundreds of millions in China.

On Sina Weibo, the hashtag, “Li Yundi detained for soliciting prostitute,” soared to the top of search rankings after just a few minutes, the Global Times reported.

Li Yundi’s verified personal tags on Weibo, which had previously been described as “an international pianist, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a member of the Standing Committee of All-China Youth Federation, and the vice-president of the Hong Kong United Youth Association”, had been revoked and amended to “an international pianist,” the Global Times reported on Friday.

The Chinese Musicians’ Association on Friday announced the removal of Li’s membership, for posing “extremely negative social impact”.

A documentary film on Li and his rise in the world of classical piano music, titled The Young Romantic was released in 2010.

“There are at least 20 million aspiring concert pianists in China. To all of them, Yundi is a hero. The Young Romantic, a documentary portrait of Chinese pianist Yundi - formerly called Yundi Li - captures the poetic intensity of this young virtuoso as he works with the great Maestro Seiji Ozawa to prepare for his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic,” is how the documentary is described on IMDB, a popular online data base on movies.

“This is interwoven with Yundi on tour in his home country, where we meet his family, gain insight into his upbringing and are exposed to the massive scale of piano culture in China,” it added.

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Thursday, December 02, 2021