Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China. His father Lang Guoren is a descendant of the Manchu Niohuru family, which brought forth a long line of Qing Empresses. The elder Lang is also a musician, who plays the traditional Chinese stringed instrument erhu. At the age of two, Lang watched the Tom and Jerry episode The Cat Concerto which features the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt.
According to Lang, this first contact with Western music is what motivated him to learn the piano. He began piano lessons with Professor Zhu Ya-Fen at age three. At the age of five, he won first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition and performed his first public recital.
When Lang Lang was nine years old, he intended to audition for Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, and, having difficulties with his lessons, was expelled from his piano tutor’s studio for “lack of talent”. Another music teacher at his state school noticed Lang Lang’s sadness, and decided to comfort him by playing a record of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K. 330; she asked him to play along with the second movement. This reminded Lang Lang of his love of the instrument. “Playing the K. 330 brought me hope again,” he recalled.