Kun-Woo Paik



Competition Winner

Born: March 10, 1946 (Seoul, South Korea)

Kun-Woo Paik is considered one of the most important pianists of his generation. Born in Seoul, Kun-Woo Paik´s first concert was at the age of ten performing Grieg´s Piano Concerto with the Korean National Orchestra. At the age of fifteen, Kun-Woo Paik moved to New York to study with Rosina Lhevinne at the Julliard School, and also with Wilhelm Kempff and Ilona Kabos.

Paik is the winner of the 1971 Naumburg Piano Award and Gold Medallist at the Busoni International Piano Competition. His international career took off following his first New York appearance, in which he performed complete piano works by Maurice Ravel at the Lincoln Center, and his orchestral debut at the Carnegie Hall.

In 1974, Paik made his European debuts with three consecutive recitals at the Wigmore Hall, London, followed in 1975 by a recital in Berlin´s Philharmonie. Since then he has closely collaborated with conductors: Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Sir.Neville Marriner, Wolfgang Sawallisch, James Conlon, John Nelson,  among others. He has performed with orchestras: the New York Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, London Symphony, BBC Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Berlin Symphony, Hungarian National, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam and Warsaw Philharmonic. He is also a regular guest artist of festivals: Berliner Festwochen, Aix-en-Provence, La Roque d´Anthéron, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Colmar, Montreux, Dubrovnik, Aldeburgh and Moscow Easter Festival.

Kun-Woo Paik´s numerous recordings include Scriabin, Liszt, complete works for solo piano by Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov´s complete piano concerti and Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini (under Vladimir Fedoseyev for BMG). His complete Prokofiev piano concerti recording received both Diapason d´Or of the year and Nouvelle Académie du disque awards in France.

As an exclusive Decca artist he  has recorded all thirty-two Sonatas by Beethoven and to celebrate JS Bach´s year in 2000, he recorded Busoni´s transcriptions of Bach's organ works as well as Fauré´s Piano works, which won all the major prizes in France. He also released the complete works for piano and orchestra by Chopin with Antoni Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic.

Kun-Woo Paik lives in Paris and was the Artistic Director of the Emerald Coast Music Festival in Dinard, France for 21 years, from 1993 to 2014. He was made the “Chevalier de l´ordre des arts et des lettres” by the French Government in 2000, and that same year, was the first Korean artist to be officially be invited by the Chinese government to perform in China.

Excerpt from The New York Times review, November 29, 1972

Paik Excels in an All-Ravel Program

"A program covering all of Ravel's solo piano music has built-in hazards. It is doubtful if such outstanding interpreters of these works would have attempted such a recital. ..the recital was not that much of an endurance contest - it lasted two and a half hours with two intermissions. It provided a fascinating overview of Ravel's piano music, spanning the years from 1895 to 1919. Mr. Paik has an affinity for the Ravel style, and there are probably few pianists today who would be superior in sustaining interest throughout such a program...he never compromised with the style for sake of variety. He has a fluid, graceful technique, which made the taxing music seem to flow effortlessly from his fingers. The tone was always beautiful. The pianist kept to the delicate sonorities, making the fine distinctions among piano, pianissimo and triple piano. It is one of the secrets of his excellence as a Ravel interpreter. Now, one would like to hear Mr. Paik tackle the Debussy repertory." Raymond Ericson

Excerpt from The New York Times review, May 15, 1972

Young Peoples Orchestra Plays to Restless Audience

"The piano soloist, Kun Woo Paik, played a superlatively...In the Faure (Ballade) he cultivated a dreamy, peaches-and-cream legato, followed by a performance of the Prokofiev (piano concerto) that sparkled with bravura excitement." Peter G. Davis

Excerpt from The New York Times review, September 20, 1984

Music: Kun Woo Paik

"presented an ambitious concert at the Abraham Goodman House, is a master colorist. One seldom hears the piano played with such obvious love and respect for its timbral possibilities. Mr. Paik coaxes a bejewelled, singing tone from his instrument...the program closed with Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7 in B Flat. This was music admirably suited to Mr. Paik's gifts, he delivered a performance of hammering, motoric fury that yet retained an inner clarity despite its velocity." Tim Page

Excerpt from The New York Times, November 26, 1992

A Pianist Emerges from Semi-Retirement

"Here is man who took a difficult path. Twenty years ago, Kun Woo Paik was poised for a big concert career...then, rather suddenly, he moved to Paris and went into semi-retirement. On his own terms, he has found an unexpected middle ground between late-20th-century clarity and high-Romantic bravura. He can draw enough thunder to raise the phantoms of legends, but behind the wash of tone there is an almost unsettling stillness and poise. Mr. Paik has begun to make more public appearances, but his formidable talent will probably thrive best on recordings. A fair number have become available on CD." Alex Ross


1971 Piano Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

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Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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