The 'royal theme' was given to the elderly Johann Sebastian Bach for a fugal improvisation by Friedrich II during his Berlin visit of 1747 and was later used by Bach as the basis for his Musical Offering.
Generally, in his music, Yun does without the deployment of a theme in the conventional sense. The banner under which the first performance of the Königliches Thema was to take place (which dedicatee Klaus Peter Diller premiered on April 1, 1977, in Schloß Benrath near Düsseldorf), read as "Johann Sebastian Bach, Musical Offering and Contemporary Aspects''. This Yun took as an opportunity to give Bach's theme a "walk through the Asiatic tradition" while setting it in twelve tone sonorities. At the end of the piece Yun returns to the original theme, transposed to a higher octave, which for Yun signifies a higher level, and only slightly but nevertheless decisively modified through typical Korean musical gestures.
Königliches Thema is Yun's only composition in which a theme and series of seven variations is given a thorough working out. The bridge between Europe and East Asia was again approached by the composer in his 1979 orchestral piece Fanfare and Memorial. There he composed a characteristic, though to all appearances European theme, heard at the beginning of the work. Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer
Kolja Lessing Internationale Isang Yun Gesellschaft IYG 007