Kun-Woo Paik

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Kun-Woo Paik
Kun-Woo Paik.jpg
Kun-Woo Paik (2014)
Korean name
Hangul 백건우
Hanja 白建宇
Revised Romanization Baek Geon-u
McCune–Reischauer Paek Kŏn-u

Kun-woo Paik (born March 10, 1946) is a South Korean pianist.

Early life[edit]

Kun Woo Paik was born in Seoul. He gave his first concert, aged 10, with the Korean National Orchestra, playing Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto. In the following years he performed many important works in Korea, including several premieres such as Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Later he studied in New York (Juilliard School), London, and in Italy with Rosina Lhevinne, Ilona Kabos, Guido Agosti and Wilhelm Kempff. Kun Woo Paik is also a laureate of the Naumburg and Busoni International Piano Competitions.


Over the years Kun Woo Paik has performed recitals in major musical centres such as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and Berlin Philharmonie. He has also performed with such orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Last Night of the Proms 1987), Pittsburgh Symphony, Russian National Orchestra, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Rai Torino, Warsaw Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra and Polish National Radio Orchestra, with such conductors as Mariss Jansons, Sir Neville Marriner, Lawrence Foster, Mikhail Pletnev, Dmitri Kitajenko, James Conlon, John Nelson and Eliahu Inbal. Kun Woo Paik is also a regular guest artist at major music festivals such as the Berlin Festwochen, Aix-en-Provence, La Roque d'Antheron, Colmar, Spoleto, Aldeburgh, "Mostly Mozart" and Ravinia Festivals, and has toured extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Italy.

His repertoire is very varied and comprises such rare works as Busoni's piano concerto, Fauré's Fantasy for piano and orchestra and Liszt's Fantasy on themes from Berlioz's Lelio. Kun Woo Paik also performs a wide selection of transcriptions by Liszt and Berlioz and is the dedicatee of Suk-Hi Kang's piano concerto.

Mr Paik has recorded the complete Prokofiev piano concertos with Antoni Wit/Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra for RCA (Diapason d'or in 1993), the complete Rachmaninoff piano concertos with Vladimir Fedoseyev / Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra (BMG), as well as several solo CDs of Scriabin, Liszt, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn piano music. In 2000 he signed an exclusive recording contract with Decca Classics. His first release featured the piano transcriptions of the organ works of J.S. Bach made by Ferrucio Busoni. Between 2005 and 2007, Decca recorded Paik in the complete piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven.

He was pro bono the Artistic Director of the Emerald Coast Music Festival in Dinard (France) for 21 years, from 1993 to 2014. He programmed a large range of music (baroque, romantic, contemporary music, ...) interpreted by top international artists to a large audience, and notably with free outdoor concerts, concerts for children, concerts with young virtuosi.[1] In November 2014, he was suddenly fired from this position by the Mayor of Dinard, Martine Craveia-Schütz, to be replaced by the egyptian pianist Ramzi Yassa; Kun Woo Paik expressed in a long letter to the Mayor of Dinard his "stupefaction and deep sorrow" and that this was "a decision as inexpected as unexplainable".[2]

Kun Woo Paik was made "Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres" by the French Government in 2000. In September 2000 he was the first Korean artist to be officially invited to perform in China.

Personal life[edit]

Paik has resided in Paris, France with his wife, actress Yoon Jeong-hee since 1974. Yoon is a star of the late 1960s commonly referred to as one of "The First Troika" by the South Korean news media, along with other two actresses in rivalry, Moon Hee, and Nam Jeong-im.[3] The couple has a daughter who is a violinist.[4][5]



  • 1967 Winner of Naumberg International Piano Competition
  • 1969 Winner of Busoni International Piano Competition
  • 1992 Golden Diapason Prize (Alexander Scriabin Album)
  • 1993 Golden Diapason Prize (Sergei Prokofiev Album)
  • 2000 Ho-Am Prize in the Arts
  • 2010 Order of Cultural Merit [6]


External links[edit]