Vietnamese-Canadian pianist Dang Thai Son was propelled to the forefront of the musical world in October 1980, when he was awarded the First Prize and Gold Medal at the Tenth International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. It was the first time that a top international competition was won by an Asian pianist.
Born in Hanoi in 1958, Mr. Dang began piano studies with his mother, Thai Thi Lien, co-founder of what is known today as the Vietnam National Academy of Music. As a boy taking refuge from the Vietnamese war in a remote village, Dang played on dilapidated pianos that were rescued from his mother’s school in Hanoi. Their story was told in a 2014 feature-length documentary, The Cannon and The Flower, by Story4. During a trip to Vietnam, Russian pianist Isaac Katz heard Dang play and encouraged him to undertake studies at the Moscow Conservatory. Dang’s teachers in Russia included Vladimir Natanson and Dmitri Bashkirov.
Today, Dang is renowned as an interpreter of Debussy and Ravel and he has appeared as soloist with major orchestras around the world. Yet it is his ability to convey the beauty and tragedy of Chopin’s music that has brought him special acclaim. He was chosen by Deutsche Grammophon, in partnership with the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, to be a featured artist in their recently released 2-volume recording of music of Chopin on period instruments. His extensive discography also includes a pair of 2017 releases: a recording of Schubert on JVC Kenwood and a collection of works by Paderewski that includes a concerto recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy.
During the 2012-13 season, Dang Thai Son toured the world with the Beethoven Marathon – an ambitious program of all five Beethoven piano concertos. In 2016, he won Canada’s Prix Opus for Concert of the Year. He is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Music Academy in Bydgoczsz, Poland, and is the subject of the biography A Pianist Loved by Chopin: The Dang Thai Son Story, published by Yamaha Music Media Corporation in 2003.
Dang has taught at Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, Taipei National Normal University, and Université de Montréal and has presented master classes throughout the world. He has served on the juries of such prestigious international competitions as the Chopin in Warsaw, Rubinstein in Tel Aviv, Busoni in Bolzano, Hamamatsu, Cleveland and others. In November 2018, Dang was named as Specially Appointed Professor of Beijing Advanced Innovation Center of the China Conservatory of Music and in June 2019, he became the honorary/guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China. Currently, he is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Dang Thai Son will assume his teaching duties at NEC in Fall 2020.