|Born||July 14, 1961|
Seoul, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||Jin Eunsuk|
Unsuk Chin (Korean: 진은숙 [tɕin ɯn.suk]; born July 14, 1961) is a South Korean composer of contemporary classical music, who is based in Berlin, Germany. Chin was self-taught piano from a young age and studied composition at Seoul National University as well as with György Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.
The recipient of numerous awards, she won the 2004 Grawemeyer Award for her Violin Concerto and the 2010 Music Composition Prize of the Prince Pierre Foundation for the ensemble piece Gougalōn. In 2019, writers of The Guardian ranked her Cello Concerto (2009) the 11th greatest work of art music since 2000, with Andrew Clements describing it as "perhaps the most original and entertainingly disconcerting of all of [her concertos], cast in four brilliant movements that never quite conform to type".
Unsuk Chin was born in Seoul, Korea. She studied composition with Sukhi Kang at Seoul National University and won several international prizes in her early 20s. In 1985, Chin won the Gaudeamus Foundation located in Amsterdam, with her piece Spektra for three celli, which was created for her graduation project. She also received an academic grant to study in Germany, and moved to Germany that same year. There she studied with György Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg from 1985 to 1988.
In 1988, Unsuk Chin worked as a freelance composer at the electronic music studio of the Technical University of Berlin, realizing seven works: her first electronic piece was Gradus ad Infinitum, which was composed in 1989. Her first large orchestral piece, Die Troerinnen (1986, rev.1990), for women's voices, was premiered by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in 1990. In 1991, her breakthrough work Acrostic Wordplay was premiered by the Nieuw Ensemble. Since then, it has been performed in more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia and North America. Chin's collaboration with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, which has led to several commissions from them, started in 1994 with Fantaisie mecanique. Since 1995, Unsuk Chin has been published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes. In 1999, Chin began an artistic collaboration with Kent Nagano, who has since premiered six of her works.
Chin's Violin Concerto was awarded the 2004 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. It was premiered in 2002 by Viviane Hagner. Since then, it has been programmed in 14 countries in Europe, Asia and North America, and performed, among others, by Christian Tetzlaff, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Simon Rattle in 2005.
In 2007, she was awarded the Kyung-Ahm Prize.
Chin's works have been performed by the orchestras around the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and many others. Her works have been conducted by Kent Nagano, Simon Rattle, Alan Gilbert, Gustavo Dudamel, Myung-Whun Chung, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Neeme Järvi, Peter Eötvös, David Robertson and George Benjamin. Chin's music has been highlighted at the 2014 Lucerne Festival, the Festival Musica in Strasbourg, the Suntory Summer Festival, the 2013 Stockholm Concert Hall's Tonsätterfestival and at Settembre Musica in Italy. In 2001/2002, she was appointed composer-in-residence at Deutschen Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Unsuk Chin was closely associated with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to 2017, at invitation from Myung-Whun Chung, as their composer-in-residence and director of their Ars Nova Series for contemporary music, which she founded herself and in which more than 200 Korean premieres of central works of classical modernism and contemporary music were being presented, as well as, later on, as the orchestra's artistic adviser. From 2011 to 2020, she oversaw the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra's Music of Today series at the invitation of its chief conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. Chin has been appointed Artistic Director of the Tongyeong International Music Festival from 2022 onwards.
Unsuk Chin does not regard her music as belonging to any specific culture. Chin names Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Anton Webern, Iannis Xenakis, and György Ligeti, among others, as 20th-century composers of special importance for her. Chin regards her working experience with electronic music and her preoccupation with Balinese Gamelan as influential for her work. In her orchestral work Miroirs des temps, Chin has also used compositional concepts of Medieval composers, such as Machaut and Ciconia, by employing and evolving techniques such as musical palindromes and crab canons.
The texts of Chin's vocal music are often based on experimental poetry, and occasionally they are self-referential, employing techniques such as acrostics, anagrams and palindromes, all of which are also reflected in the compositional structure.
Consequently, Chin has set music to poems by writers such as Inger Christensen, Harry Mathews, Gerhard Rühm or Unica Zürn into music, and the title of Cantatrix Sopranica is derived from a nonsense treatise by Georges Perec. However, in Kalá, Chin has also composed works with less experimental texts by writers such as Gunnar Ekelöf, Paavo Haavikko, and Arthur Rimbaud, Troerinnen is based on a play by Euripides, and Le silence des Sirènes juxtaposes texts by Homer and James Joyce.
Playful aspects are dominant also in Chin's opera Alice in Wonderland, which is based on Lewis Carroll's classic. The opera's libretto was written by David Henry Hwang and the composer. The Munich production, which has been released on DVD by Unitel, was directed by Achim Freyer, and it was selected 'Premiere of the Year' by an international critics' poll, which was conducted in 2007 by the German opera magazine Opernwelt.
Some of Chin's works are influenced by extramusical associations and other art genres, such as her orchestral work Rocaná which alludes to Olafur Elíasson's installations, or her ensemble works Graffiti and cosmigimmicks, the latter of which is being influenced by the art of pantomime and by Samuel Beckett.
|1993||Santica Ekatela for orchestra|
|2008||Rocaná for orchestra|
|2014||Mannequin for orchestra|
|2017||Chorós Chordón for orchestra|
|2019||SPIRA – Concerto for orchestra|
|2019||Frontispiece for orchestra|
|2002||Double Concerto for piano, percussion and ensemble|
|2009||Šu for sheng and orchestra|
|2020-21||Violin Concerto No.2|
|1984||Gestalten for ensemble|
|1985||Spektra for three cellos|
|1994–97||Fantaisie mécanique for trumpet, trombone, two percussions and piano|
|2009–11||Gougalōn. Scenes from a Street Theater for Ensemble|
|2012||cosmigimmicks. A musical pantomime for seven instrumentalists|
|1995||Piano Etude No.2 (Sequenzen)|
|1995||Piano Etude No. 3 (Scherzo ad libitum)|
|1995||Piano Etude No. 4 (Scalen)|
|1999||Piano Etude No.1 (in C)|
|2000||Piano Etude No.6 (Grains)|
|2003||Piano Etude No.5 (Toccata)|
|2004–07||Alice in Wonderland|
|1986–1990||Troerinnen, for 3 sopranos, women's choir und orchestra, after Euripides|
|1991–93||Akrostichon-Wortspiel, for soprano and ensemble|
|1999–2000||Miroirs des temps, for 4 singers and orchestra|
|2000–01||Kalá, for soprano, bass, mixed choir and orchestra|
|2004||snagS&Snarls for soprano and orchestra|
|2004–2011||Scenes from Alice in Wonderland for soprano, mezzo-soprano and orchestra|
|2005||Cantatrix Sopranica for two sopranos, countertenor and ensemble|
|2014||Le silence des Sirènes for soprano and orchestra|
|2016||Le Chant des Enfants des Étoiles for mixed choir, children's choir, organ and orchestra|
|1989–1990||Gradus ad Infinitum for 8 pianos for tape|
|1992||El aliento de la sombra|
|1995||ParaMetaString for string quartet and electronics|
|1998||Xi for ensemble and electronics|
|1998||Allegro ma non troppo for percussion and electronics|
|2000||Spectres-spéculaires for violin and electronics|
|2006–07||Double Bind? for violin and live electronics|
|2010–11||Fanfare chimérique for two spatially distributed wind ensembles and live electronics|
Awards and prizes
|1984||International Rostrum of Composers for the chamber music work Gestalten|
|1985||First Prize of Gaudeamus Foundation for Spektra|
|1993||First Prize at the Contest for Orchestra Works to Commemorate the Semicentennial for the Tokyo Government|
|1997||First Prize for Contemporary Piano Music at the Concours International de Piano d'Orléans for the Piano Studies Nos. 2–4|
|1999||First Prize at Concours Internationaux de Musique et d’Art Sonore Electroacoustiques de Bourges for Xi|
|2004||University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Violin Concerto|
|2005||Arnold Schönberg Prize|
|2010||Music Composition Prize of the Prince Pierre Foundation for Gougalōn|
|2012||Ho-Am Prize in the Arts|
|2017||Wihuri Sibelius Prize|
|2018||Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music|
|2019||Bach Prize of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg|
|2021||Léonie Sonning Music Prize|
Portrait CDs and DVDs
- Unsuk Chin: Akrostichon – Wortspiel and other works. Ensemble Intercontemporain. CD. Deutsche Grammophon, 2005
- Unsuk Chin: Alice in Wonderland. Bayerische Staatsoper, Kent Nagano. DVD. Unitel, 2008
- Unsuk Chin: Rocaná, Violin Concerto. Viviane Hagner, Kent Nagano, Montreal Symphony Orchestra. CD. Analekta, 2009.
- Unsuk Chin: Xi and other works. (reissue of Akrostichon-Wortspiel CD). Ensemble Intercontemporain. CD. Kairos, 2011.
- Unsuk Chin: Three Concertos. Myung-Whun Chung, Alban Gerhardt, Sunwook Kim, Wu Wei, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. CD. Deutsche Grammophon, 2014
Other selected recordings
- Spektra für drei Celli. In: Ladder of Escape 6. Taco Kooistra, Viola de Hoog, Eduard van Regteren Altena. CD. ATTACCA, 1992
- Allegro ma non troppo. In: Fifty Years Studio TU Berlin. EMF Media, DVD 054, 2008
- Cantatrix Sopranica. In: Sprechgesänge – Speech Songs. musikFabrik, Stefan Asbury. CD. Wergo, 2010.
- cosmigimmicks. In: "Dokumentation Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik 2013". Celso Antunes, Nieuw Ensemble. CD. WDR, 2013
- Fantaisie mécanique. In: "Euclidian Abyss". Vimbayi Kaziboni, Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie. CD. Ensemble Modern Records, 2013
- Gougalōn. In: "Contact! 2012–13 season". Alan Gilbert, New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Mp3-CD. New York Philharmonic Records, 2013
- Six Piano Etudes. Mei Yi Foo. In: Musical Toys. CD. Odradek Records, 2012
- Six Piano Etudes. Yejin Gil. In: "Fulgurances". CD. Solstice, 2013
- Six Piano Etudes. Clare Hammond. In: "Etude". CD. BIS, 2014
- ParaMetaString. Esmé Quartet. In: "TO BE LOVED". CD. Alpha, 2020
- "Unsuk Chin: Biography". www.boosey.com. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
- Clements, Andrew; Maddocks, Fiona; Lewis, John; Molleson, Kate; Service, Tom; Jeal, Erica; Ashley, Tim (September 12, 2019). "The best classical music works of the 21st century". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
- Seo, Youngsin (December 2016). "A STUDY OF UNSUK CHIN'S VIOLIN CONCERTO". Doctor of Music.
- Whittall, Arnold (2001). "Chin, Unsuk". Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.53607. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0.
- "2004– Unsuk Chin". Archived from the original on February 21, 2014.
- "Unsuk Chin appointed Artistic Director of Tongyeong Festival".
- Unsuk Chin Archived May 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Oper 2007, Opernwelt: Jahrbuch 2007.
- "Unsuk Chin – Rocaná". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – SPIRA". www.boosey.com. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- "Unsuk Chin – Frontispiece". www.boosey.com. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Double Concerto". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Cello Concerto". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Šu". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Gougalon". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Graffiti". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Piano Etude No.2 (Sequenzen)". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Piano Etude No. 3 (Scherzo ad libitum)". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Piano Etude No.4 (Scalen)". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Piano Etude No.1 (in C)". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Piano Etude No.6 (Grains)". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Piano Etude No.5 (Toccata)". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Alice in Wonderland". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Cantatrix Sopranica". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin – Xi". www.boosey.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Unsuk Chin, Sibelius Prize Winner 2017". Helsinki. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "Unsuk Chin Wins $200,000 and New York Philharmonic Commission". New York. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
- Isermann, Enno (February 20, 2019). "Komponistin Unsuk Chin wird mit dem Hamburger Bach-Preis 2019 ausgezeichnet" (Press release) (in German). Hamburg – Behörde für Kultur und Medien. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
- Seung-hyun, Song (January 30, 2020). "Chin Un-suk wins Leonie Sonning Music Prize 2021". The Korea Herald. Seoul. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
- Stefan Drees (ed.): Im Spiegel der Zeit. Die Komponistin Unsuk Chin. Schott (Mainz) 2011.
- Anderson, Martin (July 2015). "Unsuk Chin Alice in Wonderland, Barbican Centre, London". Tempo. 69 (273): 36–38. JSTOR 43928160.
- Webb, James (October 1997). "Unsuk Chin's Piano Concerto No.1". Tempo (202): 51–52. JSTOR 945781.
- Whittall, Arnold (Spring 2000). "Unsuk Chin in Focus: Meditations & Mechanics". The Musical Times. 141 (1870): 21–22+24–32. doi:10.2307/1004366. JSTOR 1004366.
- Performance of Unsuk Chin's Piano Etude No.5 'Toccata'
- Website of the composer
- Paul Griffiths: An introduction to the music of Unsuk Chin
- Documentary: Unsuk Chin on Unsuk Chin
- Article in 'The Guardian'
- Hanno Ehrler: Ordnung, Chaos und Computer – Die Komponistin Unsuk Chin
- "Unsuk Chin biography" (in French). IRCAM.