Born into a highly musical family (her brother Myung Whun is a pianist and conductor; her sister Myung Wha a cellist) Chung’s prodigious talent made her a child star in her native Korea. She moved to New York, aged 13, and studied at Juilliard with Ivan Galamian. In 1968 her success in the Edgar Leventritt Competition (placed joint first with Pinchas Zukerman) led to debuts with the Chicago Symphony and New York Philharmonic. The 1960s and ’70s saw her record the core repertoire for Decca, leaving numerous classic versions. She would later record for EMI, returning last year to the label (now Warner Classics) with a disc of solo Bach following a 13-year hiatus caused by an injury.
Tribute by Sir James Galway
Kyung Wha Chung is the outstanding violinist of her time and age. I first heard her play when I was in the Berlin Philharmonic. She came as a guest soloist and played the Scottish Fantasy of Max Bruch. It was conducted by Eugen Jochum, and I played the flute in the orchestra. This was a stellar moment in my life. It was truly great violin-playing and very inspirational. We next met up in London in the early 1980s, and recorded the Trio Sonatas from A Musical Offering by Bach. To this day, I think it is one of the best recordings of this work. It may not be what is considered a ‘Baroque’ performance, but it certainly is played with great depth of feeling and I feel honoured to have made this recording with Kyung Wha. I am delighted that her contribution to music is being acknowledged by her admittance into Gramophone’s Hall of Fame.
Bartók Violin Concerto No 2
CBSO / Rattle
Warner Classics (6/94)