Remembering Korean Violin Professor Nam Yun Kim (1949-2023)

March 13, 2023, 9:47 PM · Violinist Nam Yun Kim, one South Korea's most eminent violin teachers, died on Sunday at the age of 73.

Nam Yun Kim
Violinist and teacher Nam Yun Kim. Photo by Studio Choi, Byeong Hui.

A native of Seoul, Kim studied violin with Young Woo Choi, then came to the United States and studied at the Juilliard School of Music with Ivan Galamian and Felix Galimir. She won first prize in the 1974 Tibor Varga International Violin Competition and was invited to perform internationally at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Sydney Opera House and other major concert halls in Europe and Asia. She also performed with major orchestras throughout the world including St. Petersburg Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Zagreb Radio Symphony and many others worldwide.

In more recent years she was professor of violin at the Korea National University of Arts, and she gave master classes at many universities, including Yale University, Manhattan School, Keshet Eilon, Beijing Conservatory, and San Francisco Conservatory. She frequently served on juries for high-level international competitions, including the Jean Sibelius Competition, Premio Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, and Queen Elisabeth competitions.

Many of her students have become highly accomplished artists, among them are concert violinist Chee-Yun Kim, multi-award-winning violinist/violist Yura Lee, 2010 Indianapolis competition first prize winner Clara-Jumi Kang, 2015 Queen Elisabeth Competition winner Ji-Young Lim, 2017 Isang Yun International Violin Competition winner Ji Won Song, Eastman School of Music Assistant Professor YooJin Jang, and many others.

"Young students should listen to other people," Kim said in a 2022 interview during the finals of the Isang Yun Competition, for which she was the jury chair. "I always tell my students to listen to other people, to try and meet other teachers, to get advice. To have an open mind. To listen to other styles, to get different ideas. Because in Korea, they only study with me, so they need more experience! Whether they win a prize doesn't matter. First, second, third, fourth, they are all the same."

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March 14, 2023 at 05:11 AM · I'm convinced that Prof. Kim must have been a truly exceptional teacher. Every one of her students that I've heard has just blown me away, not simply in technique, but in taste, musicality and depth.

I don't know anything about what studying with her must have been like, but I can't think of another teacher with a comparable list of students.

March 15, 2023 at 03:59 PM · She was a giant, gone way too soon. She was like a sister to me while she was in New York, but lost touch over the decades. Will miss her terribly

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