April 13, 2015
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. 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 – as a result – Chung 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, among 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 high calibre pianists such as Peter Frankl, 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. Winner of two Gramophone Awards (including one for her EMI/Warner Classics 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 stopped 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, a member of the Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment in South Korea, and Charity Ambassador for Better World (an active patron for their Child Rescue Project in Africa). She is also the Artistic Director of the Great Mountains Music Festival & School, based in South Korea.
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 seventeen cities, including Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing. Now turning her attention once more to Europe, Kyung Wha Chung made her much anticipated return to the UK concert platform in December 2014, with a national tour culminating in a sensational recital at the Royal Festival Hall, London.