Vanessa Mae: life inside the sheet music

Once maestro Paganini played on one string, captivating the whole world with the sound of his violin, and gained immortality.
Perhaps the mother of Vanessa Mae, Pamela, this beautiful story made such a strong impression that she made an unambiguous and irrevocable decision to do everything possible, and the impossible too, so that her only daughter Vanessa could play in the same way as Paganini once did. … And, as you know: if “a woman wants something, then God wants it.” Apparently, this is why a woman named Pamela succeeded in everything she planned, and even much more.

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Video: Vanessa May Concert

Vanessa Mae: Music or Mom?

If you saw Vanessa Mae on stage with a violin in her hands, then you can easily imagine a sexy beauty with an exotic oriental appearance.

But, everything is not so simple: short dress, tight-fitting body; loose hair and sexual overtones in every wave of the bow – it was all for the stage. And, for Vanessa herself – daily violin lessons for 12 hours, an iron regime and total control of the mother.

This is incredible! Vanessa’s first romantic date with a man happened at the age of twenty. She did not come to this date alone, but together with her mother. Pamela was extremely unhappy that her daughter Vanessa was being distracted by some guy from rehearsals.

Vanessa Mae as a child with her mother1

The mother, until 1999, was the manager, director and “overseer” of her daughter, demanding from her strict obedience and compliance with the regime. And, if before the age of twenty, Vanessa obeyed her mother, then after twenty she rebelled.

Everything ended very badly: Vanessa fired her mother, and not only from the position of manager, but also from the “position” of her mother. After that, the two closest women in the world stopped even communicating.

Vanessa’s violin childhood

The future British violinist, composer, actress and skier Vanessa May was born in Singapore in the fall of 1978. When the baby was barely four years old, her mother, a Chinese woman Pamela Tan, filed for a divorce from her daughter’s father, Thai Waraprong Vanakorn, and moved to London with her small child. In England, a woman manages to re-arrange her personal life, and Vanessa has a stepfather – a lawyer named Graham Nichols.

It is interesting! Vanessa Mae often speaks of her childhood and adolescence as a bleak time of constant overcoming. At the age of three, her mother hired her a strict piano teacher, and at five, Vanessa received the first violin as a gift from her stepfather.

Vanessa Mae as a child

More than anything, Pamela was obsessed with only one idea: to make her daughter appear on the pages of the Guinness Book of Records. And, to achieve it, all means were good: the woman constantly shouted at her daughter, forcing the baby, for five hours a day, to make music.

It happens! Vanessa often recalls her mother’s favorite phrase that “her love for her is in direct proportion to her musical success.”

At the same time, Vanessa, in her interviews, more than once admitted that the mother’s methods were incredibly cruel, but they helped her achieve her goal – to make her daughter a worldwide celebrity.

Living on schedule: school, violin and violin

From the moment Vanessa was seven years old, her life routine has undergone significant changes, becoming even more dense and tense.

The girl entered school, and now half of the day she learned to write, read and count, and the other half she devoted to playing the piano and violin.

Take note! Thanks to this regime, at the age of ten, Vanessa became a laureate of the UK Young Pianists’ Competition, and began giving concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Vanessa, at the insistence of her mother, at the age of eleven, enters the Royal College of Music as the youngest student. But, she studied there for only six months, considering that she had already learned the technique of playing the violin, and now it was time to experiment and create on her own.

Vanessa Mae with her mother

It is interesting! Today, the violinist’s hallmark is a passion for musical experiment: when the academic style of performance is boldly mixed with the possibilities of modern arrangements.

Life inside a sheet of music

From the age of twelve, Vanessa embarks on an intensive tour: the girl no longer goes to school. Pamela is more than happy with this situation: she believes that the school distracts her daughter from music. And, after all, it is music that is its direct purpose.

It happens! From that moment on, Pamela Tan fills with herself all the space around her daughter, leaving her not even the slightest – the possibility of her own choice. The mother insists on a complete cessation of Vanessa’s communication with all friends and peers.

Vanessa's home rehearsal

Pamela makes a strong-willed decision to assign an experienced bodyguard to her daughter, relentlessly following her everywhere. The situation sometimes reached the point of complete absurdity: Pamela did not even allow her daughter to choose her clothes, and took all bank accounts under total control.

Life in hot start mode

Vanessa recorded her first disc at the age of twelve, in 1990. Four years later, she presented her debut album “The Violin Player” to music lovers. It was the release of this album that made violinist Vanessa Mae a world-class star.

This is curious! The musical world was shocked not only by the composition “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”, but also by the manner of performance of the young violinist. Especially her amazing arrangements based on the combination of acoustic and electric sound. Vanessa herself defined her performing style, calling it “techno-acoustic fusion”.

Vanessa Mae on stage

Up the “steps of greatness”

After the release of the first album, Vanessa Mae began a rapid ascent to the musical Olympus:

  • 1996 year – obtaining the title of the best English performer.
  • 1997 year – The release of the second album “China Girl”, dedicated to the Chinese roots of the violinist.
  • 1998 year – the beginning of the first world tour.

It is interesting! In her performances, Vanessa usually uses the “Gizmo” violin by the violin maestro Guadagnini, which he created in 1761. It is an invaluable tool. In 1995, the violin was stolen, but the London police were able to find and return it to Vanessa.

Once, having seriously quarreled with her mother and, being under the influence of strong emotions, Vanessa hit the violin against the wall, smashing it to smithereens. Fortunately, the restorers, after working for several months, were able to bring the legendary violin back to life. At the same time, Vanessa often says that after professional “resuscitation” the instrument sounded even better.

In addition to the Gizmo, May often uses the American-made Zena Jazz Model electric violin. All fans of Vanessa know that at the end of a series of performances, she announces a sale of her electric violins: the violinist donates the proceeds to charity.

Vanessa Mae plays the violin1

A short connection with cinema, a break with his mother and a bitter acquaintance with his father

1998 becomes a landmark year for May: she decides to star in several films and soap operas at once. But, as Vaness herself later admitted, objectively assessing her artistic abilities: “I’m better to play the violin than to play in the movies”.

As we have already said, in 1999, Vanessa, having lost all points of contact with her mother, harshly dismisses her from the position of her director and manager: from then on they even stop communicating.

Unfortunately, Vanessa’s relationship with her own father did not work out in the best way: the father found his daughter, just to ask her for money. Vanessa was then fifteen years old.

Vanessa with skis

About seven years ago, Vanessa decided to move to live in Switzerland for only one reason: her love of skiing. Moreover, the passion for skiing, starting as a simple hobby, gradually grew into a second profession.

Vanessa Mae in the alpine skiing competition

It happens! 2014 surprised the entire music world: violinist Vanessa Mae announced herself as a participant at the Sochi Olympics, as a professional skier.

Vanessa Mae skiing

Due to the fact that May had dual citizenship: Britain and Thailand, each of the two countries demanded to go on the track under its own flag. At the very last moment, Vanessa, as an exception, was allowed to participate in the Olympics.

Love for Lionel

Vanessa has repeatedly said that her own mother inspired her fear of an official marriage. In the late nineties, a pleasant young man named Lionel appeared next to Vanessa. He was the son of the mayor of the French town of Val d Isère. But, what is especially interesting: at first the guy did not even know that a fragile girl with beautiful oriental eyes was a world famous violinist.

It is interesting! Starting to build a serious relationship, Vanessa and Lionel settled in London. The guy has his own small wine business in France.

Vanessa in many interviews says that before meeting Lionel, she was absolutely unadapted to everyday life, because her mother, Pamela, completely protected her daughter from any connections with the outside world.

Vanessa Mae Lionel

Vanessa calls Lionel her husband, although they are not officially registered yet. The young man helped Vanessa adapt to the realities of society, and overcome many internal complexes about her appearance and the right to happiness.


Vanessa and Lionel dream of children and, perhaps, very soon, the long-awaited firstborn will appear in their family. But, already now, before his appearance, Vanessa often says that she will never repeat the mistakes of her mother, and will not spoil the psyche of her children with total control and cruelty.

In 2008, Vanessa Mae not only entered, but also topped the list of the richest musicians of Foggy Albion among those who have not yet turned thirty. The amount of her fortune is approximately $ 80 million. In honor of Vanessa May, astronomers recently named the asteroid 10512.

Vanessa, by the age of thirty, was able to overcome all the difficulties of life, become a world star, meet true love and gain the right to female happiness.

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