The Rising Pianist Who South Korea Declared “Classical Music’s Answer To K-Pop”

The Rising Pianist Who South Korea Declared “Classical Music’s Answer To K-Pop”

In the comment section of his gold medal winning performance of Sergei Rachmaninov‘s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30” at the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, pianist Yunchan Lim was lauded as “a new era in the world of gifted pianists,” an “unspeakable talent,” and “simply a gift in our time.

Professional music critics praise Lim as “an artist capable of considerably more than the usual technical fireworks,” and one believes “there are few sounds more ravishing in the world,” than his playing.

Yunchan Lim | @sofrolimsky/Instagram

Yunchan Lim was only 18 years old when he performed the most-watched rendition of what many consider one of Rachmaninov’s most complex pieces. Still, he has long been a pride of his home country, South Korea, which, according to the New York Times, has declared him “classical music’s answer to K-pop.

Yunchan Lim fell in love with classical music when his mom played him some of history’s most celebrated composers as a child.

When faced with deciding on an after-school activity at seven years old, he fatefully chose to learn how to play the piano. After a year, he was enrolled at the Music Academy of the Seoul Arts Center and was accepted into the Korea National Institute for the Gifted in Arts when he was 13 years old. Later, he became a student at Korea National University of Arts

| @sofrolimsky/Instagram

Despite his meteoric rise in popularity, and exposure to fans around the globe through his collaborations with orchestras across the world, Lim admitted he feels “uneasy” about the fame, and surprisingly revealed that he feels he has no musical talent, while acclaimed competitions, tough critics, and classical music fans feel otherwise.

| Boston Symphony Orchestra

Yunchan Lim proved his fame when he released his live recording of Franz Liszt‘s “Transcendental Études,” which went platinum in South Korea upon its release.

The young musician’s next musical chapter is bringing him stateside, as he joins his longtime mentor, Korean American pianist Minsoo Sohn, at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts.

He also recently signed an exclusive record deal with Decca Records, with new piano recordings on the way in 2024.

Yunchan Lim remains humble through his success, and in a press conference, he promised to live his life “only for the sake of music.

I made up my mind that I will live my life only for the sake of music, and I decided that I will give up everything for music… I wanted my music to become deeper, and if that desire reached the audience, I’m satisfied.

— Yunchan Lim

Check out his award-winning performance of Rachmaninov’s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30” below!

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