Li Yundi, the Chinese pianist known to many Westerners as Yundi, has been arrested by Chinese authorities, charged with solicitation.
The 39-year-old pianist, winner of the 2000 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, more recently has become a fan favorite in China for his appearances on television variety galas and reality shows.
He may have been targeted as part of the campaign by the communist regime of Xi Jinping “to rein in China’s raucous celebrity culture, warning about the perils of celebrity worship and fan clubs,” The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernández reports. “The Chinese government often uses accusations of prostitution to intimidate political enemies, and it was unclear why Mr. Li had been singled out and what punishment he might face.”
Norman Lebrecht, on his Slipped Disc blog, reports that Li’s membership in the Chinese Musicians Association has been canceled for “extremely negative social impact,” and that the China Association of Performing Arts has called for a boycott of the pianist for his “indifference to law and a lack of moral self-discipline.”
“This is on the point of turning into a witch hunt,” Lebrecht writes:
UPDATE (Oct. 26): Lebrecht reports that an editorial in Global Times, controlled by the Chinese state, may signal “an official reprieve for the star pianist.” The outlet’s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, writes, “Everyone has the right to reprimand Li, but meanwhile, all the reactions, if combined together, should be proportional and in line with societal standards.”