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Kyung Wha Chung

Violin
Faculty Member, The Juilliard School
Chair Professor for Music, Ewha University, Seoul
Member of the Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment, South Korea

Kyung Wha Chung is recognised throughout the world as one of the finest violinists of her generation.  A prolific recording artist, her dazzling and probing artistry has made her a much-acclaimed performer throughout her forty-year career.  Lauded for her passion, her musicality, and the intense excitement that she brings to her performances, Chung’s uniquely expressive interpretations of the violin literature have established her as an artist of the very highest stature.

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News

Kyung Wha Chung tours South Korea and Japan with Kevin Kenner

Kyung Wha Chung tours South Korea and Japan with Kevin Kenner

World renowned violinist Kyung Wha Chung will tour South Korea and Japan later this month, along with long-time sonata partner Kevin Kenner The programme will feature the Brahms violin sonatas, previously recorded by Chung for EMI Classics, and awarded the highest recommendation of outstanding classical recordings by France-based Diapason Magazine: the Diapason d’Or The tour will see the duo perform ...

Kyung Wha Chung performs with Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra

Kyung Wha Chung performs with Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra

Ms Chung will be performing Brahms’ magnificent Violin Concerto with her brother, Myung Whun Chung, conducting the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra The concerts (both of which are sold out) will take place at Tokyo Opera City (4 October) and Suntory Hall (5 October)...

Biography

“Simply, relentlessly, magnificent: a miracle of momentum and humanity” (The Sunday Times), Kyung Wha Chung is recognised throughout the world as one of the finest violinists of her generation.  A prolific recording artist, her dazzling and probing artistry has made her a much-acclaimed performer throughout her fifty-year career.  Lauded for her passion, her musicality, and the intense excitement that she brings to her performances, Chung’s uniquely expressive interpretations of the violin literature have established her as an artist of the very highest stature.  Born in South Korea, Chung first heard the violin at the age of six.  Instantly mesmerised by its tone, she was swiftly recognised as a child prodigy, making her concert debut aged nine with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.  At thirteen, Chung enrolled at The Juilliard School, New York, and began studying with renowned pedagogue Ivan Galamian, and later with Joseph Szigeti.

Upon winning the prestigious Edgar Leventritt Competition in 1967, Chung was immediately engaged by major American orchestras – including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic – and also performed at the exclusive White House Gala.  She made her sensational European debut in 1970, performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Sir André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, at London’s Royal Festival Hall.  This concert was met with great critical acclaim and public attention, and Chung immediately received offers of concerts throughout the United Kingdom.  Subsequently obtaining an exclusive recording contract with Decca/London, Chung’s debut album – of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos with Sir André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra – brought her to international attention, and she continued to perform with the world’s greatest orchestras (including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra, amongst others).  Throughout her career, Kyung Wha Chung has enjoyed working alongside the world’s finest conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti, Sir André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Georg Solti and Klaus Tennstedt.  Her chamber music partnerships have included such high calibre pianists as Peter Frankl, Kevin Kenner, Stephen Kovacevich, Radu Lupu, and Krystian Zimerman.

Kyung Wha Chung has recorded numerous award-winning albums, and her extensive discography reflects the impressive breadth of her repertoire.  Following her recording contract with Decca/London, in 1988 Chung subsequently signed for a period with EMI Classics, and also released recordings with RCA and Deutsche Grammophon.  Winner of two Gramophone Awards (the first, for her Deutsche Grammophon album of Strauss and Respighi sonatas with Krystian Zimerman; the second, for her EMI recording of Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto with Sir Simon Rattle), Chung has also received many prizes and top honours – including the Medal of Civil Merit from the South Korean government, and the Ho Am Prize for the Arts in 2011.

Following an injury to her hand, Chung took a break from performing in 2005.  During this time away from the stage, she found a new calling as a teacher, joining the faculty of her alma mater, The Juilliard School.  In addition to this, Kyung Wha Chung is Chair Professor for Music at Ewha University in Seoul, and Charity Ambassador for Better World (an active patron for their Child Rescue Project in Africa).  She was also the Artistic Director of the PyeongChang Music Festival (formerly Great Mountains Music Festival & School), South Korea, until 2018.  Five years after her retirement, 2010 marked Chung’s triumphant return to the Asian stage.  Greeted by enthusiastic audiences and the highest critical acclaim, in 2013 she embarked on an extensive Asian tour of fifteen major cities.  She made her much anticipated return to the European concert platform in 2014/2015, with a UK tour culminating in a sensational sold-out recital at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Kyung Wha Chung has since signed an exclusive international record contract with Warner Classics, the first release of which in 2016 (Solo Bach Sonatas & Partitas) was accompanied by complete performances at NCPA Beijing, Suntory Hall, Barbican Centre, and Carnegie Hall.  The second disc (French sonatas with Kevin Kenner) was released in 2018.  Other recent and forthcoming highlights include opening the Verbier Festival, subscription concerts with Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia & Sir Antonio Pappano (partnered by a tour to the Abu Dhabi Festival), work with Tokyo Philharmonic & Myung-Whun Chung, and extensive Asian recital tour with sensational young Chopin prize-winner Seong-Jin Cho, to whom Chung has been a mentor for many years.

Reviews

A combination of elegance and deep, affecting drama.
- American Record Guide
, 2018
“A profoundly insightful musician.”
- Gramophone
Her fervour, which belies her age and rivals that of younger performers, is marvellous… radiant playing, full of boldness. Kyung Wha Chung’s readings can stand alongside the best and most illustrious of her peers for sheer sensuality of playing. Refinement in its purest state.
- Diapason
, 2018
The 70-year-old violinist displayed rock-solid intonation, a smooth bow arm, and the sizzling passion that always gave her recordings of the Romantic concerto repertoire such excitement.
- South Florida Classical Review
, 2018
Luminous lyricism and drama…the performance of Franck’s Sonata has the stamp of authority. The recitative of the third movement is heroic: this is heart-on-sleeve playing, urgent, passionate, and anguished…
- The Strad
 (Review on 'Beau Soir')
, 2018
An interpretation graced with her inimitably projected upper register, learnt almost half a century ago at the feet of Ivan Galamian in New York, and nurtured by her ever since…Chung plays with the confidence and inner security of one who has nothing to prove.
- The Arts Desk
 (Peter Quantrill)
, 2018
One of the most mesmerising and enjoyable performances I can remember.
- The Strad
, 2017
A sound of utter resplendency, a brilliantly shining tone right across the instrument…simply, relentlessly magnificent.
- The Sunday Times
 (Paul Driver)
, 2014
What a marvel is South Korean violinist Kyung Wha Chung…rich impassioned sound…immaculate definition…a miracle of momentum and humanity.
- The Herald, Scotland
 (Michael Tumelty)

Discography

Beau Soir
Released March 2018 on Warner Classics

“The reflection of light has endless possibility. The same thing applies to the texture and the sound when you’re playing. There are millions of sounds.” – Kyung Wha Chung (on Fauré’s Sonata No 1) 

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas
Released October 2016 on Warner Classics

Complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin.

“I’m delighted to announce that I am so happy to be returning to the recording studio after many years for a series of exciting artistic projects. The first of these is the solo Sonatas & Partitas of J.S.Bach: a monumental task. This is the unending quest of my musical journey.” – Kyung Wha Chung

Complete Warner Recordings
Released April 2015 on Warner Classics

This 11-CD collection, which unites recordings made between 1978 and 2000, showcases the different facets of her art: as a concerto soloist; in works for solo violin and piano, and as a chamber musician. Also included in the box is a DVD of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, recorded in Amsterdam with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Klaus Tennstedt.

Complete Decca Recordings
Released January 2015 on Decca
Original Jackets Collection
20 CDs
Beethoven: Symphony No 5 / Brahms: Violin Concerto
Released September 2001 on EMI Classics

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Simon Rattle

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Released January 2001 on EMI Classics

St Luke’s Chamber Ensemble

Released 2001 on EMI Classics

Souvenirs
Released September 2019 on EMI Classics

Itamar Golan

Works by Bach, Debussy, Dvorák and Ibert

Franck / Debussy: Violin Sonatas / Chausson: Poème
Released January 1998 on Decca

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Dutoit
Radu Lupu

Prokofiev / Stravinsky: Violin Concertos
Released January 1998 on Decca

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Andre Previn

Saint-Saëns: Violin Concertos
Released July 1998 on Decca

London Symphony Orchestra
Lawrence Foster
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Charles Dutoit

The Art of Kyung Wha Chung
Released June 1998 on Decca

Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Dutoit
Rudolf Kempe
Philip Moll
Radu Lupu

Works by Elgar, Lalo, Kreisler and Franck

Released 1998 on Decca

Dvořák: Works for Violin & Orchestra
Released August 1989 on EMI Classics

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Riccardo Muti

Sonatas for Violin & Piano
Released October 1989 on Deutsche Grammophon

Krystian Zimerman

Chung Trio Tchaikovsky & Shostakovich Piano Trios
Released October 1989 on EMI Classics
Chung Trio Dvořák Piano Trios 1 & 3
Released October 1989 on Decca
Con Amore
Released April 1987 on Decca

Works by Brahms, Kreisler and Elgar

Beethoven: Violin Concerto
Released March 1979 on Decca

Kirill Kondrashin
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Saint-Saëns / Chausson / Ravel
Released September 1979 on Decca

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Dutoit

Elgar Violin Concerto
Released June 1977 on Decca

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Georg Solti

Prokofiev Violin Concertos 1 & 2
Released September 1977 on Decca

London Symphony Orchestra
André Previn

Bartók Violin Concerto
Released November 1977 on Decca

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Georg Solti