Yuja Wang was born in Beijing, China, on February 10, 1987. She began piano lessons at six and had later studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. She was a prizewinner in the Sendai International Music Competition in 2001. That same year she moved to Calgary, Canada, for studies at the Mount Royal College Conservatory.
Wang owes much of her sudden fame to her role as a fill-in for superstar pianists who cancel on short notice. Most famously, Wang substituted for Martha Argerich in the Tchaikovsky First with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in March 2007. The reviewers were ecstatic in their praise for her performance. The following year she substituted for Murray Perahia on a concert tour that garnered lavish critical acclaim from Boston to San Francisco. Wang's repertory is broad and quite eclectic, taking in works by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and others.
Wang won the 2002 Aspen Music Festival Concerto Competition, after which she relocated to the U.S. for studies at the Curtis Institute under Gary Graffman. Her European debut was in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2003, when she performed the Beethoven Fourth with the Tonhalle Orchestra under David Zinman.
In February 2005, Wang launched her career as a "fill-in" when she substituted for Radu Lupu in Ottawa, Canada, for another performance of the Beethoven Fourth. In 2006 Wang was the recipient of the Gilmore Young Artist Award. Wang graduated from Curtis Institute in 2008, and went on that summer to give acclaimed performances of the Liszt B minor Sonata, Brahms Horn Trio, and ProkofievFirst Piano Concerto at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The following year she was invited by Claudio Abbado to play the Prokofiev Third Piano Concerto at the Lucerne Festival. That acclaimed performance was issued on a EuroArts DVD in 2010.