Min Kwon

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Min Kwon (born Kwon, Min-Kyung) is a Korean-American pianist[1] and professor of piano at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Kwon began playing the piano at the age of 3, under the tutelage of her mother who ran a music school out of her home.[3] She also studied violin, cello, and choral singing. In the sixth grade Kwon decided to focus fully on piano,[3] receiving the Music Award from the Korean Department of Education at the age of 12. She made her debut as a piano soloist with the Korean Symphony performing Mendelssohn's Concerto No. 1, and then with the Seoul Philharmonic performing Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 2.

Kwon's family immigrated to Closter, New Jersey when she was 14 years old.[3][4] There, she received a full scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,[5] and she made her North American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 16,[3] performing Prokofiev's Concerto No. 3. Kwon studied with Eleanor Sokoloff and Leon Fleisher, and participated in master classes with artists such as Richard Goode, and Murray Perahia.

After earning her Bachelor of Music Degree at the age of 19,[3] Kwon continued her studies at The Juilliard School with Martin Canin. She received MM and DMA degrees from Juilliard, and completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Mozarteum in Austria with Hanz Leygraf.[6]


Kwon and her sister Yoon Kwon modeled for a Pantene shampoo TV commercial in 2001.

She has written articles in Korean music publications, most notably Piano Music, in which she interviewed such pianists as Kristjan Zimmerman, Yevgeny Kissin, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mitsuko Uchida, Murray Perhaia, and Pierre Laurent Aimard.


As the winner of the Beethoven Competition, Kwon made her New York debut in 1992 with the Juilliard Orchestra at the Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center[6] under Stanisław Skrowaczewski, performing Beethoven's Concerto No. 4. She later toured South America with Orquestra Estaudo Mexico and Orquestra Sinforinca Venezuela. She has appeared with all the major orchestras in Korea.

Kwon and her sister Yoon, a violinist, were the first Koreans to record for RCA Red Seal Records in 1996.[6] Between 1994 and 2000, the duo performed extensively under the (Columbia Artists Management) Community Concerts and IMG Artists Management. In addition to the duo album, Kwon has recorded solo piano works featured in You and Me and Concerto Extravaganza. Her latest solo album was released in 2008 by MSR Classics, featuring the music of Schubert and Liszt, and was a collaboration with producer David Frost.[7]

Kwon has given solo and chamber recitals in Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, and at New York's Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, and has performed on numerous international stages, including the Colmar Festival in France, and at venues in Germany, Estonia, Norway, Malaysia, Curaçao, and Switzerland.

Kwon served as Co‐Director of the Vienna ConcertoFest in Austria. From 2015 until 2018 she served on the Juilliard School Council in New York—the first music alumna to have been invited to do so.[5][6]


Kwon became a professor of Piano at the Mason Gross School in 2002.[6] At Rutgers, she has tutored over 40 doctoral pianists from 18 nationalities.

She has served as Chair of Keyboard Studies and Interim Director of the Music Department, and taught piano minor and chamber music at The Juilliard School in New York.

Kwon has been invited to teach at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland and the Altenburg MozartFest in Austria. She has conducted master classes at the Shanghai Conservatory, the Beijing Central Conservatory, the Hong Kong Academy of Fine Arts, Hong Kong University, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Singapore, and the Vladimir Feltsman PianoFest in SUNY New Paltz, New York.

She has also served as a guest professor at the London Royal College of Music and the International Keyboard Institute in Korea. During the summer of 2017, she was the Artist in Residence at the American Academy in Rome and taught at the Music Fest Perugia.

Arts advocacy[edit]

In 2010, Kwon founded the nonprofit The Center for Musical Excellence,[3] which provides training and assistance to gifted young musicians wishing to pursue a life in music. CME provides grants, mentorships, and performances. Kwon currently serves as Executive and Artistic Director of the organization.

In 2021 Kwon launched the America/Beautiful project, which combined performances of different compositions of "America the Beautiful" with conversations around American history and identity.[4][8] The project was included in an episode of the PBS series "State of the Arts."[9]

Personal life[edit]

Kwon has traveled to over 60 countries.[5] As of 2021, she lives in Bedminster, New Jersey, where she is a member of the Lamington Presbyterian Church.[4][10]

Kwon is married to Leonard Lee, who is chairman of surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.[4] The couple have two daughters.[8]


She is the winner of Juilliard's Gina Bachauer International Piano Award (1995), the Kingsville International Competition, the Van Cliburn Institute Competition, and she has won prizes at the Jaen International, Scottish International, Dong-A International, and Calabria International Piano Competitions. She won the Grand Prize at the Korea KBS Emerging Artists Awards. She was also seen on the Hour of Power with Robert Schuller, and was featured as the cover story, "Maestro on Mediterranean," of Virtuoso Magazine.

In 2010, she won the Dorthy McKenzie Award at the New York Keyboard Institute and Festival.[11]


  • 1996 Yoon Kwon, Min Kwon / Min Kwon (works by Part, Brahms, de Falla, Gershwin, Kreisler)
  • 2000 You and Me, Yoon and Min (works by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Copland, Schonfield)
  • 2005 Concerto Extravaganza (works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Grieg, Rachmaninoff)
  • 2008 Schubert and Liszt (Schubert Sonata D 850, Schubert/Liszt Gretchen am Spinnrade, Liszt Gnomenreigen, Reminiscence de Don Juan)[12]
  • 2010 Franz Schubert: Music for Piano Four Hands (with Robert Lehrbaumer)[13]
  • 2015 CME Presents: Piano Celebration Vol. I (works by Horowitz, Barber, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Rzewski)[14]
  • 2016 CME Presents: Piano Celebration Vol. II (works by Paul Real for four hands)[15]
  • 2019 Dance![6]


  1. ^ Piano & keyboard: the bimonthly piano quarterly. String Letter Press. 1995. p. 19.
  2. ^ "Min Kwon | Mason Gross School of the Arts". www.masongross.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Malafronte, Allison. "Min Kwon: Moving Music and Musicians Forward". Radiant Life. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d Finn, Jennifer (2021-06-29). "Pianist Enlists Top Composers in Salute to America". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  5. ^ a b c Gereben, Janos (22 February 2021). "Min Kwon Speaks of the Dream of America". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Biography". minkwon.net. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  7. ^ "MSR Classics :: MIN KWON :: SCHUBERT & LISZT :: MS1263". www.msrcd.com. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  8. ^ a b "Pianist Min Kwon Taps 70 Composters to Paint Sonic Vision of America". All Arts. 1 July 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  9. ^ "State of the Arts | Min Kwon's America/Beautiful". PBS. 24 July 2021.
  10. ^ Deak, Mike. "Benefit concert for Ukraine relief efforts coming to Bedminster". Courier News. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  11. ^ "IKIF Artist Recognition Scholarship Awards". International Keyboard Institute & Festival. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  12. ^ "MS1263 - SCHUBERT: Sonata D.850; LISZT: Don Juan Fantasy, Gnomenreigen, Gretchen am Spinnrade; MIN KWON". MSR Classics. 2008-08-21. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  13. ^ "Schubert: Music for Piano Four Hands". Apple Music. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  14. ^ "Piano Celebration (Center for Musical Excellence, Vol. 1)". Apple Music. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  15. ^ "CME Presents: Piano Celebration Volume II Debut CD". The Center for Musical Excellence. 2017-07-29. Archived from the original on 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2023-01-20.

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