I'm fairly certain that, as a young student who diligently practised his scales, exam pieces and honed other skills as part of his piano lessons, Jay Chou Chieh Lun never in his wildest dreams could have envisioned that he would one day be the King of Mandopop and showered with adulation by millions of fans for his music and more.
Indeed, becoming a piano teacher or performing pianist was a more likely career path but as mentioned in my post on his early years, [http://jaychoudiaoness.blogspot.sg/2012/05/early-years.html], Jacky Cheung's hit song, Goodby Kiss proved to be a strong influence in Jay's teens [http://www.jaychoustudio.com/archives/the-3-songs-that-have-influenced-jay-chou-the-most/569], as he then veered into the world of pop music and the rest, as they say, is history.
For all the rigours of his music education, however, it is irrefutable that it was precisely such a strong grounding in the study of the piano and classical music which would lead to Jay's eventual overwhelming success as an innovative and creative songwriter/performing artiste.
And it is no surprise that the one composer whom he unfailingly mentions as his most favourite ever (yup, even Mandopop Kings have their fandoms!) is none other than Frederic Chopin.
Here's a link to a website about Chopin:
Examples abound of Jay's love for Chopin, which he shows in his music and other works.
November's Chopin (circa 2005)
The photo at the top of this post is the cover for his sixth studio album, November's Chopin...and yes, it is without a doubt, my most favourite cover amongst all his eleven albums! The title, the hair, the suit, the piano, the Venetian background and his whole stance just shouts "COOL"!
Incidentally, this was also one of his first albums which I bought in my early days of Jay-mania (the title and cover were sooo intriguing!) and listened to and it still ranks up there as one of my absolute favourites as I like almost every track on it.
It is a wonderful tribute to Chopin by Jay as the very first track is entitled, Nocturne and is one of his best compositions ever.
As is well-known, Chopin's nocturnes are also among his very best and most melodic works for the piano.
Here's an article about the shooting of this photo, taken from multistars forums, which shows how much passion and commitment Jay put into this album:
"Ye Hui Mei album was Jay's wonderful present to his mother. And now, November Chopin is also a present to Jay's idol, Chopin, with an extra feeling of respect. November Chopin will be released on the 1st of November. Although it is a bit late this year, but still, his fans do felt the perfectionism that Jay wanted on his album. He even went to Venice for album cover photoshooting, this shows that inside Jay has the genetic of Romantic & Classical. Being a perfect album, AlfaMusic had put up almost a million dollars on photoshooting! This has been the most expensive photoshooting Jay ever had.
This ancient romantic scenary is from Venice, Italy - Piazza San Marco. To avoid the place being crowded, Jay and his workers woke up very early, at about 6 AM for photoshooting in this empty piazza without any people around. As early as that, even pigeons weren't seen flying. Not long after the begun of the photoshoot, the pigeons were seem so hyperactive, flying around and creating a wonderful and perfect scenario in the photoshoot for Jay's new album promotional pictures. What's so special was for a classic brown colour piano to be inserted on the scene, workers were in such trouble because in Venice, there's no suitable piano available. Not bothering anything, the classic brown piano actually traveled for 5 hours by ship from Milan to Venice. The night before the photoshoot, people were hired to look after the scene .
The photoshooting session costs the earth, not including the flight ticket and hotel, they spent almost a million dollar. Mainly because of many photoshooting scenes needed rental pay, such as Piazza San Marco, Opera House, Castle, Ballrooms ... When the staff actually spotted the master bedroom, the owner who'd never allowed any photoshoot inside its castle, had surprisingly let Jay to shoot in the castle just because the owner was impressed by Jay's piano skill .
Jay Chou was nominated in the movie of Initial D in Golden Horse Award as in the Best Newcomer Award & Soundtrack Composing Award - Piao Yi + Yi Lu Xiang Bei. These 2 songs have a lot been discussed by fans in forums. Therefore , AlfaMusic decided to put in these 2 tracks as bonus track in Jay Chou's upcoming album. In addition included 3 MV's - Ye Qu, Yi Lu Xiang Bei, and Fa Ru Xue. Plus the photos have been shooted in Venice were to print into calender to satisfy Jay's fans."
Secret (circa 2007)
In my post on Jay's self-directed-and-acted movie, Secret, I mentioned his paying homage to Chopin in the movie [http://jaychoudiaoness.blogspot.sg/2012/05/secret-that-cannot-be-told.html], some of which I shall elaborate on here.*beware spoilers*
Firstly, Chopin is mentioned in a classroom scene early in the movie and named as the Poet Of The Piano
Secondly, there are paintings of the master and his lover in the piano room where Xiang Lun and Xiao Yu discuss the love affair between Chopin and George Sand.
Thirdly, the iconic Piano Duel between Jay and Yuhao (who's referred to as the Prince of the Piano in the movie) features two Chopin pieces viz Black Key Etude (Opus 10, No 5) and Waltz in C# minor (Opus 64, No 2), with wonderful improvisations by Yuhao.
Fourthly, Qing (the other main female character) is seen clutching a book of Chopin's music in a scene at their lockers.
Fifthly, the Time Travel theme which starts off very Bach/Baroque-like in the first part evolves into a Mozartean-sounding midsection and then goes into a Chopin-ish march with the virtuousic running notes in the right hand and the emphatic base, ending in an awesome flourish!
In my other posts about Jay's music, I've talked about his use of unusual modulations/chord progressions and ornamentations in his songs and of course, strong melodic lines:
and also his improvisatory skills
It is noteworthy that these attributes owe alot to Jay's love for and imbibement of Chopin's music as the master himself was, after all, known as the Poet of the Piano...'nuff said!
For more in-depth analysis about Chopin's music, here's a good link and I'd like to highlight some quotes:
"Chopin found in the piano sonic possibilities soon to be exploited by Liszt and, later, the French Impressionists and the rest of the world."
"For all the high craft of this music, however, it conveys an improvisational sensibility, as if the pianist were inventing these mercurial lines at the moment."
And another link about why Chopin is popular even in China: (Jay is mentioned in the article)
Of course, there are other composers who have also influenced Jay and I shall write about them in a separate post, as I feel Chopin deserves his own space here. :)
My pianistic standards, unfortunately are not up to performing Chopin with any degree of competency but as a result of wanting to write this post, I have been reading about and listening to more Chopin works now and am appreciating his immense effect on Jay even better.
I just listened to this beautiful piece and would like to share it here.
It's the second movement from Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in F Minor-Larghetto, performed by Artur Rubinstein:
And here's the Chopin Waltz featured in Secret, in its entirety...enjoy!
Lang Lang playing the Black Key Etude:
From the bottom of my heart, "Thank you, Chopin", for inspiring our man to such great heights!