Isang Yun's music and life are celebrated in his centenary year, including a retrospective at the Tongyeong International Music Festival in his native Korea.
<DIR=LTR align="left">The centenary of Isang Yun in 2017 offers the opportunity to hear a range of this pioneering composer’s works which combine the tradition of Eastern-Asian music with Western avant-garde techniques. While his native Korea and adoptive Germany are at the centre of activities, performances around the world celebrate his humanitarian mission to cross frontiers thanks to the power of music.
The Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea presents a Yun retrospective between 31 March and 9 April with visiting performers including the Arditti Quartet, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic and conductors Dennis Russell Davies, Stefan Soltesz and Stefan Asbury. Highlights include the Cello Concerto, Clarinet Concerto and his hour-long opera The Dream of Liu-Tung.
Centenary performances in London include the UK premiere of Pièce Concertante for chamber ensemble together with Yun's haunting setting of Nelly Sachs' poems ‘Teile dich Nacht’ featuring soprano Yeree Suh. This free 6pm Music of Today concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 2 March is performed by members of the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Pascal Rophé. The programme is completed with Mutatio perpetua by Yun's one-time student Sukhi Kang.
The Cello Concerto receives its Austrian premiere on 12 June with Matt Haimovitz and the Bruckner Orchester in Linz and Yun's vivid dance fantasy Muak is performed by both the German Youth Orchestra in April and KBS Symphony Orchestra in November.
Yun studied cello and composition in Korea and Japan, and actively opposed the Japanese occupation, leading to his imprisonment until the end of World War II. Following the Korean War armistice in 1953 he won a scholarship to study in Europe, first in Paris and then in Berlin, where he settled in 1964. Due to a visit to North Korea he was abducted from Berlin by South Korea’s Park regime in 1967 and imprisoned in Seoul for two years, finally released in response to a campaign by leading musicians. He took West German citizenship and taught in Hannover and Berlin, assuming a life in exile while never neglecting his Korean roots.