BEIJING: Malaysian pianist Claudia Yang was honoured with a cultural award by the Hungarian government last week at the Hungarian Cultural Institute here.
She received the “Pro Cultura Hungarica” award from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a ceremony held in conjunction with Orban’s official visit to China.
Yang, a 40-year-old Beijing-based concert pianist, lived in Hungary between 1997 and 2000 after graduating from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria.
She married there and has twin daughters.
“To me and my family, Hungary is our second hometown.
“I lived in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The Danube flows through the lively and beautiful city, which has a rich historical and cultural heritage, warm people and good food,” Yang said.
The “Pro Cultura Hungarica” award was presented to Yang in recognition of her efforts in promoting Hungarian culture, especially the music of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.
In 2011, she was invited by the Hungarian government to join a concert tour in Asia and Europe to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Liszt.
“Liszt is one of my favourite composers. Living in his country, I could feel his breath and soul everywhere,” Yang said.
She was deeply inspired by Liszt’s benevolent spirit.
“Not only was he the greatest pianist, composer and conductor, he was a benefactor to many young composers and pianists,” she said.
“He often played for charity and gave free lessons to his pupils, who later became great pianists.
“I want to be as generous as Liszt, and live a life that can be a blessing to many people through my music and friendship.”
The Johor-born, who left for Vienna at the age of 17 to pursue her dream of becoming an internationally renowned pianist, is the first Malaysian to receive the award.
“I am so proud to be a Malaysian,” she said.
Yang will play a concert with the famous Hungarian orchestra, the MAV Symphony Orchestra, in Budapest on March 26.