Myung-whun Chung

Myung-whun Chung (born 22 January 1953, Seoul) is a South Korean conductor and pianist. A student of Olivier Messiaen, he is particularly known for his interpretations of the French composer's works.

Myung-whun Chung
Born (1953-01-22) 22 January 1953
NationalitySouth Korean
OccupationPianist, conductor
RelativesSisters Kyung-wha Chung and Myung-wha Chung
Awards Geumgwan Order of Cultural Merit (1996)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJeong Myeonghun
McCune–ReischauerChŏng Myŏnghun


At one time he and his sisters, violinist Kyung-wha Chung and cellist Myung-wha Chung, performed together as the Chung Trio.[1] He was a joint second-prize winner in the 1974 International Tchaikovsky Competition.[2] Chung studied conducting at the Mannes College of Music and the Juilliard School. He also studied piano with Maria Curcio, the last and favourite pupil of Artur Schnabel.[3][4] Chung was an assistant conductor at the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the music directorship of Carlo Maria Giulini and founder of the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also a guest conductor for the Inbal Orchestra, which was established in 1985 in honor of the Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal.

In Europe, Chung was chief conductor of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken from 1984 to 1990. He was principal guest conductor of the Teatro Comunale Florence, from 1987 to 1992.[5] He has conducted many of the prominent European and American orchestras and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1986 with Simon Boccanegra. At the end of the 1987/88 seasons, he received the Premio Abbiati Award from Italian critics, and the following year the Arturo Toscanini prize. From 1989 to 1994, Chung served as the Music Director of the Paris Opera. He opened the inaugural season at the new Opéra Bastille with Berlioz's complete Les Troyens and received highly praised reviews from the music circle. In 1991, the Association of French Theatres and Music Critics named him "Artist of the Year" and in 1992 he received the Legion of Honour for his contribution to the Paris Opera. An exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon since 1990, many of his numerous recordings have won international prizes and awards. These include Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie and Éclairs sur l'au-delà..., Verdi's Otello, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with the Opéra Bastille Orchestra; a series of Dvořák's symphonies and serenades with the Vienna Philharmonic, a series dedicated to the great sacred music with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, including the award-winning recording of Duruflé's and Fauré's requiems with Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel.

In 1995 he was honoured three times at the French Victoires de la musique classique, and was also named Meilleur Chef d'Orchestre de l'Année (best conductor of the year). He directed the world premiere of Messiaen's last work: the Concert à quatre for four soloists (piano, cello, oboe, flute) and orchestra, which the composer had dedicated to Chung and the Orchestre de la Bastille. He became Special Artistic Advisor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001, Honorary Conductor Laureate from 2010, and Honorary Music Director from 2016.[6] He was awarded the highest Record Academy Prize by Japanese critics following his performances in Japan. In addition to being awarded numerous music prizes, Chung has also been honoured with Korea's most distinguished cultural award, the Order of Cultural Merit or Geum-gwan Medal (Gold Crown) 금관장, for his contribution to Korean musical life and was named "Man of the Year" by UNESCO. He served as Ambassador for the Drug Control Program at the United Nations and was Korea's Honorary Cultural Ambassador, the first in the Korean government's history. From 1997 he has been the Music Director of the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra, from 2000 the Music Director of the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, and from 2001 the Special Artistic Advisor of Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra (Honorary Music Director since 2016). With the 2012/2013 season, he became the first Principal Guest Conductor in the history of the Staatskapelle Dresden.

In 2005, Chung became Principal Conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.[7][8] In April 2011, the Seoul Philharmonic became the first Asian orchestra to sign a major-label record deal, committing to make 10 CDs for Deutsche Grammophon.[9] Chung led the orchestra in its first performance at The Proms in August 2014.[10] In September 2011, Chung made a cultural breakthrough visit to Pyongyang, North Korea, returning with an agreement to form an orchestra made up of musicians from North and South Korea.[11]



  1. Event Guide (12 August 2004). "Chung Trio Re-unites as 'Trio of Filial Devotion'". The Chosun Ilbo. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  2. Winners & Prizes – 1974, International Tchaikovsky Competition
  3. "Maria Curcio" by Niel Immelman. The Guardian, 14 April 2009
  4. "Maria Curcio". The Daily Telegraph, 7 April 2009
  5. Ben Mattison (22 January 2005). "Report: Myung-whun Chung Is Top Candidate to Lead Seoul Philharmonic". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  6. "Conductor Profile, TPO"
  7. Andrew Clements (4 March 2006). "Concert Review: LSO/Chung". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  8. Ben Mattison (2 February 2005). "Myung-whun Chung Named Music Director of Seoul Philharmonic". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  9. Martin Cullingford (13 April 2011). "Seoul Philharmonic signs to DG". Gramophone. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  10. Erica Jeal (28 August 2014). "Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra/Chung/Wu review – playful and stylish sheng odyssey". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  11. Tania Branigan (16 September 2011). "North and South Korea set to make sweet music together". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Hans Zender
Music Director, RSO Saarbrücken
Succeeded by
Marcello Viotti
Preceded by
Daniel Barenboim
Music Director, Opéra Bastille
Succeeded by
James Conlon
Preceded by
Principal Conductor, KBS Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Dmitri Kitayenko
Preceded by
Daniele Gatti
Music Director, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Succeeded by
Antonio Pappano
Preceded by
Marek Janowski
Music Director, Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France
Succeeded by
Mikko Franck
Preceded by
Seung Gwak
Music Director, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Osmo Vänskä
Preceded by
Principal Guest Conductor, Staatskapelle Dresden
Succeeded by
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