Kyung Wha Chung

Kyung Wha Chung
Kyung-wha Chung at SSO (20151005224117).jpg
Background information
Born (1948-03-26) 26 March 1948
Seoul, South Korea
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJeong Gyeonghwa
McCune–ReischauerChŏng Kyŏnghwa

Kyung Wha Chung (born 26 March 1948) is a South Korean violinist.

Early years and education

Kyung Wha Chung was born in Seoul as the middle of the seven children in her family. Her father was an exporter, and her mother ran a restaurant. She began piano studies at age 4, and violin studies at age 7, where she proved more sympathetic to the violin. She became recognized as a child prodigy,[1] and by the age of 9 she was already playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. As time progressed she steadily won most of the famous music competitions in Korea. With her siblings, Chung toured around the country, performing music both as soloist and as a part of an ensemble. As the children became famous in Korea, Chung's mother felt that it was too small a country for her children to further their musical careers, and she decided to move to the United States. All of Chung's siblings played classical instruments and three of them would become professional musicians. Her younger brother, Myung-whun Chung is a conductor and a pianist, and her older sister, Myung-wha Chung is a cellist and teacher at the Korean National University of Arts in Seoul. The three of them have subsequently performed professionally in their later careers as the Chung Trio.

At age thirteen, she arrived in the United States. She followed her older flautist sister Myung-Soh Chung in attending the Juilliard School in New York, where she studied with Ivan Galamian.[1]

Musical career

In 1967, Chung and Pinchas Zukerman were the joint winners of the Edgar Leventritt Competition, the first time for such an outcome in the history of the competition.[2] This prize led to several engagements in North America, such as with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. She substituted for Nathan Milstein for his White House Gala when he became indisposed.

Her next big opportunity came in 1970 as a substitute for Itzhak Perlman, with the London Symphony Orchestra. The success of this engagement led to many other performances in the United Kingdom and a recording contract with Decca/London. Her debut album with André Previn and London Symphony Orchestra, which coupled Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos, brought her international attention, including the top recommendation in the BBC Radio 3's Building a Library programme which compared the various recordings of the Sibelius. In Europe, Chung continued her musical studies with Joseph Szigeti.

Her commercial recordings include core repertoire violin concerti, including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Berg. She has recorded chamber works such as the Brahms violin sonatas, Franck & Debussy sonatas, and Respighi & Strauss sonatas (with Krystian Zimerman, a recording which earned her a Gramophone Award for Best Chamber Recording). Other recordings include Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which was selected as Gramophone's editorial choice, and the Brahms violin concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic under Simon Rattle.

In 1997, she celebrated the 30th anniversary of her international debut at Barbican Centre in London and in her hometown of Seoul, South Korea. In 2008, illness and injury caused her to halt her performing career temporarily.[3] Her most recent return to live performance was in London at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2014.[4] However, her reaction to the audience coughing, including persistent coughing from a child in her line of vision and her subsequent talking to the child's parents, caused widely reported controversy at this recital.[5]

Chung has two sons, Frederick and Eugene, from her past marriage to the British businessman Geoffrey Leggett. Their 1984 marriage ended in divorce.[3]


In 2007, Chung joined Juilliard as a member of the faculty of the school's Music and Pre-College Divisions. She received the Kyung-Ahm Prize in 2005. In 2011, she received the Ho-Am Prize in the Arts division in recognition of her 40-year-long career as a violinist and educator.


Solo recordings

Year of issueAlbum detailsCollaborating artistsRecord labelFirst Issue
1970Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto / Sibelius: Violin ConcertoLondon Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by André Previn)
DeccaSXL 6493
1972Bruch: Violin Concerto / Scottish FantasiaRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Rudolf Kempe)
DeccaSXL 6573
1973Walton: Violin Concerto / Stravinsky: Violin ConcertoLondon Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by André Previn)
DeccaSXL 6601
1975Bach: Partita No. 2 in D minor; Sonata No. 3 in C MajorDeccaSXL 6721
1976Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3 / Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No. 5London Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Lawrence Foster)
DeccaSXL 6759
1977Prokofiev: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2London Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by André Previn)
DeccaSXL 6773
1977Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2London Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Sir Georg Solti)
DeccaSXL 6802
1977Elgar: Violin ConcertoLondon Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Sir Georg Solti)
DeccaSXL 6842
1978Saint-Saëns: Havanaise; Introduction and Rondo / Chausson: Poeme / Ravel: TziganeLondon Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Charles Dutoit)
DeccaSXL 6851
1980Beethoven: Violin ConcertoVienna Philharmonic
(conducted by Kirill Kondrashin)
DeccaSXDL 7508
1980Franck: Violin Sonata / Debussy: Violin SonataRadu LupuDeccaSXL 6944
1980Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 / Schumann: Piano Trio No. 1André Previn (Piano)
Paul Tortelier (Cello)
His Master's VoiceASD 3894
1981Bach: Trio Sonatas BWV 1038, 1039 & 1079James Galway (Flute)
Phillip Moll (Harpsichord)
Moray Welsh (Cello)
RCA Red Seal
1981Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole / Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 1Montreal Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Charles Dutoit)
DeccaSXDL 7527
1982Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto / Mendelssohn: Violin ConcertoMontreal Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Charles Dutoit)
DeccaSXDL 7558
1984Berg: Violin Concerto / Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 1Chicago Symphony Orchestra
(conducted by Sir Georg Solti)
Decca411 804-1
1987Con Amore (Romantic violin works by Kreisler and other composers)Phillip Moll (Piano)Decca417 289-1
1988Franck: Violin Sonata / Debussy: Violin Sonata /Phillip Moll (Piano)Decca
1989Dvořák: Violin Concerto Op. 53; Romance Op. 11Philadelphia Orchestra
(conducted by Riccardo Muti)
1989Strauss: Violin Sonata Op. 18 / Respighi: Violin SonataKrystian Zimerman (Piano)Deutsche Grammophon
1989Beethoven: Violin Concerto / Bruch: Violin ConcertoLondon Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Klaus Tennstedt)
2001Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni, The Four SeasonsSt Luke's Chamber Ensemble
(part of Orchestra of St. Luke's)
EMI Classics
2016Bach Sonatas & PartitasWarner Classics0190295944162
2018Beau Soir - Fauré, Franck, Debussy - Works for Violin and PianoKevin Kenner (Piano)Warner Classics0190295708085

Chung trio recordings

Year of issueAlbum detailsCollaborating artistsRecord label
1986Dvořák: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 3Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
1987Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 / Brahms: Piano Trio No. 1Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
1988Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor / Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 1Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
1988Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Two RomancesMyung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)
Philharmonia Orchestra
(conducted by Myung-whun Chung)
Deutsche Grammophon
1992Beethoven: Piano Trio Nos. 4 & 7 "Archduke"Myung-wha Chung (Cello)
Myung-whun Chung (Piano)

See Kyung-Wha Chung discography at


  1. ^ a b Barbara Rowes (8 November 1982). "Tiny Kyung-Wha Chung Is No Dragon Lady, but When She Fiddles, Ears Burn". People. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Contests: Cookie & Pinky Come Through", Time Magazine, 26 May 1967.
  3. ^ a b Hoo-ran Kim (15 November 2013). "The dichotomy of violinist Chung Kyung-wha". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  4. ^ Erica Jeal (3 December 2014). "Kyung Wha Chung review – a legend makes a tense return". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  5. ^ Ivan Hewett (5 December 2014). "Kyung-wha Chung was right to shush a toddler". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 December 2014.

External links

Media files used on this page

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Kyung-wha Chung at SSO (20151005224117).jpg
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Kyung-wha Chung, the Korean violinist, after the opening concert of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra 2015-16 season.