Kyung-wha Chung

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Chung.
Kyung-wha Chung
Born (1948-03-26) 26 March 1948 (age 66)
Seoul, Korea
Nationality South Korean
Occupation Violinist
Kyung-wha Chung
Hangul 정경화
Hanja 鄭京和
Revised Romanization Jeong Gyeonghwa
McCune–Reischauer Chŏng Kyŏnghwa

Kyung-wha Chung (born 26 March 1948, Seoul, South Korea) is a Korean violinist.[1] She has won wide recognition as a very fine player both from critics and audiences.

Biography[edit]

Kyung-wha Chung's musical career began at the age of three[citation needed]. Her fame in the seventies and eighties was at the highest level, and she was ranked alongside the great violinists Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman.[2] Chung later extended her repertoire in her interpretations of Romantic, Modern music, Baroque and Mozart.[3]

Early years[edit]

Kyung-wha Chung was born to a musical family. Her mother recognized her musical talent from a young age (she began to sing at the age of two)[citation needed]. With her perfect pitch, Chung was a good singer, winning several minor competitions in Korea. Following this success she was introduced to the piano, but the instrument bored her so much that she often fell asleep while practicing[citation needed]. However, the moment she first heard the sound of a violin, she was instantly mesmerized by its tone[citation needed]. With an amazing[opinion] amount of focus, and surprising speed of learning for one so young, Kyung-wha Chung began to play the violin from the age of six. She became recognized as a child prodigy, and by the age of nine she was already playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. As time progressed she steadily won most of the famous music competitions in Korea. With her siblings, Chung toured around the country, performing music both as soloist and as a part of an ensemble. As the children became famous in Korea, Chung's mother felt that it was too small a country for her children to further their musical careers[citation needed], and she decided to move to America. All of Chung's siblings played classical instruments and three of them would become professional musicians. Her younger brother, Myung-whun Chung is a conductor and a pianist who won the second prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition against Andrei Gavrilov. Her older sister, Myung-wha Chung, who plays cello and studied under the great Gregor Piatigorsky, has won many competitions (among them, the Geneva Competition) and currently teaches at the Korean National University of Arts in Seoul.

To America[edit]

At age thirteen she arrived in the United States. However, Chung's family found that moving to America was not an easy undertaking[citation needed]. With the help of Myung-Soh, her older flautist sister who was studying at Juilliard School in New York, Chung received an invitation to audition for Pre-College division of Juilliard. The audition was successful, and Chung was awarded a full scholarship, with the possibility of studying under the renowned teacher Ivan Galamian.

At Juilliard[edit]

Studying in Juilliard was not easy. The language barrier was challenging, and being a part of a racial minority group meant that Chung often felt like an outsider. She was one of the best child violinists in Korea, but at Juilliard, competing against some of the best young prodigies in the world, Chung found that her talent was less developed than others.

Faced with these challenges she was determined to distinguish herself, working so hard that her family began to fear for her health. Galamian's training was strict, renowned for causing students to leave the school. However, for Chung's work ethic, it seemed that his technique was exactly what she needed. Her playing matured considerably during this time with the help of her teacher. Galamian, however, was known to be prejudiced against female violinists. Although he knew of her talent, he thought she could go only so far as a professional violinist. He always told her not to get married, as he had seen promising female violinists before her choose marriage over violin performance. Subsequently, she proved the possibility of having children and a successful concert career, although her marriage to a British businessman ended in divorce.[4]

1967 Edgar Leventritt Competition[edit]

Chung had always wished to compete in the Tchaikovsky Violin Competition[citation needed], but because of the Cold War and the tense relationship between the Soviet Union and South Korea, she could not participate[citation needed]. So instead in 1967, she decided to participate in the Edgar Leventritt Competition, a prestigious 27-year-old contest in which Itzhak Perlman had won first prize. However, many around her tried to dissuade her from participating[citation needed]. Her manager thought that if she did not win, it would be detrimental to her career[citation needed].

Her teacher Ivan Galamian was also not in favor because Pinchas Zukerman, another of his students, was participating in the same competition[citation needed]. Supported by the famous and powerful Isaac Stern, Zukerman seemed to have better chance of winning the competition. But to boost her confidence, Chung's determined mother sold the family home in Korea to buy her the Harrison Stradivarius violin, which had been part of the Henry Hottinger Collection[citation needed].

In the final stage of the competition, the judges found it impossible to choose a winner between Chung and Zukerman, and Stern demanded that they play again[citation needed]. Yet even after the second round, the judges still could not decide and for the first time in the history of the Leventritt competition, it declared two winners: both Chung and Zukerman for first place. That outcome was remarkable: because of the exceptionally high standards of the Leventritt competition, in some years the judges picked no winner when they felt that the candidates were not ripe for major concert appearances and yet, that year, for the first time in the competition's history, two winners were named.[5] Chung was immediately granted concerts with major American orchestras, such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, and substituted for Nathan Milstein for his White House Gala when he became indisposed. However, her career was still not blossoming. Her next big opportunity came in 1970, when Itzhak Perlman could not come to London for his concert with the London Symphony Orchestra (his wife was giving birth to their child), and Chung was asked to step in at the last minute. The orchestra was initially hostile to Chung, whom they considered an "amateur". The orchestra started playing the Mendelssohn Violin concerto during the rehearsal, although Chung had been told that she would be playing Tchaikovsky for the concert. She nonetheless played the Mendelssohn concerto perfectly, winning the respect of the orchestra[citation needed]. The rehearsal went smoothly afterwards, and the concert was a success[citation needed].

Professional career[edit]

Her success in London would mean much to her career; she had many engagements in the United Kingdom and she subsequently obtained an exclusive recording deal with Decca/London. Her debut album with André Previn and London Symphony Orchestra, which coupled Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos, brought her international attention, including the top recommendation in the BBC Radio 3's Building a Library programme which compared the various recordings of the Sibelius.

It was in Europe that Chung then met her second great teacher, the well-known violinist Joseph Szigeti. Szigeti not only refined her violin skill, but also concentrated on expanding her understanding of music and art[citation needed]. He encouraged her to read books and go to galleries, and Chung later said at an interview that this experience had taught her how a visual medium of artistic expression, such as a painting, might be transformed into musical language.[citation needed]

Since then she has performed around the world, most of the time to critical acclaim. She has worked with most of the major orchestras including Berlin Philharmonic,[1] Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra,[1] Philadelphia Orchestra,[1] and Boston Symphony Orchestra.[1] She has worked with many famous conductors including Georg Solti, André Previn,[1] Simon Rattle,[1] Claudio Abbado, Charles Dutoit and Riccardo Muti. She has also worked with such celebrated pianists as Radu Lupu, Krystian Zimerman, Peter Frankl, Stephen Kovacevich and her younger brother Myung-whun Chung. She plays also in the Chung Trio, with her brother and her older sister, Myung-wha Chung. Her repertoire includes most of the famous concertos ranging from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky to Berg, and she has recorded several important sonatas such as the Brahms violin sonatas, Franck & Debussy sonatas, and Respighi & Strauss sonatas (with Krystian Zimerman, a recording which earned her a Gramophone Award for Best Chamber Recording). Her interpretations are known to be very passionate but at the same time well structured and with a wide range of tonal variation. Her early recordings show the degree of perfectionism which Chung pursued.

In 1997, she celebrated the 30th anniversary of her international debut at Barbican Centre in London and in her hometown of Seoul, Korea. Her most recent recordings include Vivaldi's Four Seasons[1] (which was selected as Gramophone's editorial choice) and Brahms violin concerto with Vienna Philharmonic under Simon Rattle.

Educator[edit]

In 2007, she joined Juilliard as a member of the faculty of the school's Music and Pre-College Divisions.[6]

In 2011, she received the Ho-Am Prize in the Arts division in recognition of her 40-year long career as a violinist and educator. In November that year, after a five-year break with a finger injury and family bereavements, she resumed her playing career.[7]

Discography[edit]

Solo recordings[edit]

Year of issue Album details Collaborating artists Record label
1970 Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto / Sibelius: Violin Concerto London Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by André Previn)
Decca
1972 Bruch: Violin Concerto / Scottish Fantasia Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Rudolf Kempe)
Decca
1973 Walton: Violin Concerto / Stravinsky: Violin Concerto London Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by André Previn)
Decca
1975 Bach: Partita No. 2 in D minor; Sonata No. 3 in C Major Decca
1976 Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3 / Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No. 5 London Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Lawrence Foster)
Decca
1977 Prokofiev: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 London Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by André Previn)
Decca
1977 Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2 London Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Sir Georg Solti)
Decca
1977 Elgar: Violin Concerto London Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Sir Georg Solti)
Decca
1978 Saint-Saëns: Havanaise; Introduction and Rondo / Chausson: Poeme / Ravel: Tzigane London Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Charles Dutoit)
Decca
1980 Beethoven: Violin Concerto Vienna Philharmonic
(conducted by Kirill Kondrashin)
Decca
1980 Franck: Violin Sonata / Debussy: Violin Sonata Radu Lupu Decca
1980 Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 / Schumann: Piano Trio No. 1 André Previn (Piano)
Paul Tortelier (Cello)
His Master's Voice
1981 Bach: Trio Sonatas BWV 1038, 1039 & 1079 James Galway (Flute)
Phillip Moll (Harpsichord)
Moray Welsh (Cello)
RCA Red Seal
1981 Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole / Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 1 Montreal Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Charles Dutoit)
Decca
1982 Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto / Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto Montreal Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Charles Dutoit)
Decca
1984 Berg: Violin Concerto / Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 1 Chicago Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Sir Georg Solti)
Decca
1987 Con Amore (Romantic violin works by Kreisler and other composers) Phillip Moll (Piano) Decca
1988 Franck: Violin Sonata / Debussy: Violin Sonata / Phillip Moll (Piano) Decca
1989 Dvořák: Violin Concerto Op. 53; Romance Op. 11 Philadelphia Orchestra
(conducted by Riccardo Muti)
EMI
1989 Strauss: Violin Sonata Op. 18 / Respighi: Violin Sonata Krystian Zimerman (Piano) Deutsche Grammophon
1989 Beethoven: Violin Concerto / Bruch: Violin Concerto London Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Klaus Tennstedt)
EMI

Chung trio recordings[edit]

Year of issue Album details Collaborating artists Record label
1986 Dvořák: PIano Trios Nos. 1 & 3 Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
Decca
1987 Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 / Brahms: Piano Trio No. 1 Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
Decca
1988 Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor / Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 1 Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
EMI
1988 Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Two Romances Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
Philharmonia Orchestra
(conducted by Myung-whun Chung)
Deutsche Grammophon
1992 Beethoven: Piano Trio Nos. 4 & 7 "Archduke" Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
EMI

See Kyung-Wha Chung discography at discogs.com

References[edit]

External links[edit]