40 years of virtuouso violin by Chung

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40 years of virtuouso violin by Chung

Kyung-wha Chung is returning to the stage. That simple sentence might be more than enough to move the hearts of violin aficionados. After a four-year hiatus, the Seoul-born violin virtuoso is scheduled to perform in Korea this year.

She will perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto with the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra on May 4 at the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. Then, she will play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra of the United States on Nov. 11, according to Vincero, an arts management company that will present her upcoming concerts. The venue will also be Seoul Arts Center.

This year is particularly meaningful for the 61-year-old violinist, in that she is celebrating the 40th anniversary of her debut. To commemorate her decades-long history as a musician, London-based Decca Records released on Thursday a limited-edition box set titled “40 Legendary Years” containing 19 CDs and one DVD featuring recordings from her illustrious career.

Universal Music, which owns Decca Records, plans to put just 5,000 sets on sale, and each set will be marked with a serial number.

Chung was forced to stop performing in September 2005 due to a finger injury that also led her to cancel a concert in Seoul.

In 2007, she joined the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music in New York, which is also her alma mater.

Late last year she said in an interview with a local newspaper, “One thing I realized [while away from performing] is that I was born for the violin, am fascinated by the violin, and am crazy about the violin.”

Chung emerged as a young dynamo of the violin in the 1960s, under the tutelage of noted violinist and teacher Ivan Galamian.

Her stubborn competitive spirit and shrewd technique later earned her the nickname “Asia’s witch.”

During the span of her career, she has regularly appeared as a soloist with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.

She is also a member of the Chung Trio, with her brother, conductor-pianist Myung-Whun Chung and sister, cellist Myung-Wha Chung.

At the age of 19, she won first prize in the Leventritt Competition, an honor she shared with Pinchas Zukerman, who was also one of Galamian’s students at the time.

Chung then released her debut album with Decca Records at the age of 22 in 1970, becoming the first Korean classical musician to sign a contract with the global music label.

Recording contracts followed with Deutsche Grammophon, EMI and many others. She has played a broad span of violin solos and concertos, including Bartok, Mendelssohn, Bruch, Vivaldi, Prokofiev, Saint Saens, Debussy and Tchaikovsky.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]


Left, Kyung-wha Chung [JoongAng Ilbo]

Far left, the cover of Chung’s album “40 Legendry Years.” Provided by Universal Music
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