"Professor Lin Yao Ji was dedicated to the art of the violin, music education in China, and bringing emerging talent to the world stage. Renowned internationally, his legacy lives on with his students worldwide."
Born in Guangzhou in 1937, Lin Yao Ji declared his ambition to become a violinist at a very early age. His parents paid little attention to it, until one day he startled them by announcing that he had already started his formal studies and taken his first lesson with one of the city’s most prominent teachers–who now needed to be paid. He was only 13 at the time and didn’t even own an instrument, leaving him with no choice but to practice on a pair of chopsticks when he got home. A real violin soon followed, however, brought home by a generous uncle from Hong Kong.
Lin’s extraordinary abilities weren’t destined to pass unnoticed for long. Less than one year into his training, he was overheard during a lesson at his teacher's home by the principal of Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, who instantly recognized the boy’s talent and offered him a place at the Conservatory without so much as an audition. Upon graduating from the Conservatory in 1960, Lin was selected by the Moscow Conservatory of Music to study under the internationally renowned violin professor Yuri Yankelevich, who was so taken by Lin that he offered him the choice of either competing as a violinist or focusing on the art of pedagogy. His future soon became clear and Yankelevich rightfully predicted that Lin would go on to make a great contribution to violin education in China.
In 1962 Lin returned to the Conservatory and embarked on a brilliant teaching career, which was, however, temporarily interrupted by the Cultural Revolution. Between 1970-1972 Lin and his wife Hu Shi Xi were dispatched to different re-education camps and separated from their 6-year-old daughter, Lin Wei. This marked the beginning of a challenging chapter in Lin’s life, but even under these harsh conditions, this ever-resourceful man found new ways to thrive. Banned from teaching or playing classical music, he started to experiment with violin playing and teaching methods in his head, as he labored on the farm and underwent military training.
It was during this exile that he discovered the many parallels between nature and the art of playing the violin, and novel ways of combining Confucian philosophy with organic physiology to develop a new approach to playing. This personal experience eventually led him to devise more than 30 idioms that were easy for students to understand and remember. These formed the basis of his published theoretical writings, the most famous of which being a collection of Lin's Academic Lectures on Violin, in which his teaching methods are delineated. His approach was artistic, scientific, and soundly based on Russian violin technique. His work has become a focal point in Asian violin literature.
As the effects of the Cultural Revolution subsided in the mid seventies, the Central Conservatory of Music was reinstated and Lin was invited to return. During his tenure at the Central Conservatory of Music Beijing, which spanned almost fifty years, Professor Lin became the Head of the Violin Teaching and Research Department and nurtured many generations of Chinese virtuosos who owe much to his unique pedagogy and training. During his career at the Conservatory his influence extended far beyond the violin, to all aspects of musical culture in China.
Within a few years his students started making their mark in the international violin arena. Under his guidance, the first Chinese contestant ever to win a prize in an international violin competition was Hu Kun, who won 5th Prize in the 4th Jean Sibelius International Violin Competition (1980). From 1980 onwards, Professor Lin’s students started attending every major international violin competition, including the Sibelius in Finland, the Tchaikovsky in Moscow, the Queen Elizabeth in Belgium, and scores of other U.K, Italian, German, American, and international competitions. These young contestants have brought home over 40 awards, 13 of which were first prizes. Numerous students have gone on to successful solo careers, and many grace acclaimed orchestras and universities around the world.
Professor Lin also often served as an adjudicator at prestigious international violin competitions. He was a member of the International Council of the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition, England. He was also the Chairman of the jury panel of the first and 2nd Chinese International Violin Competition (Qingdao). In addition, he was regularly invited to conduct master classes in the US, Korea, Hong Kong and Europe. He also acquired the title of State Expert and received the Grand Prize for his distinguished contribution to the violin in China. In 1993, he was appointed as a member of the State Committee at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
When Professor Lin passed away in his sleep on 16 March 2009, he had been teaching until that very evening – nurturing his passion and love for music to the very end.
Professor Lin Yao Ji. 1937-2009