The Korea Herald


[Newmaker] Cho Seong-jin, Korea’s new classical music icon

By 이선영

Published : Oct. 27, 2015 - 18:48

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Pianist Cho Seong-jin (EPA-Yonhap) Pianist Cho Seong-jin (EPA-Yonhap)

Cho Seong-jin, the winner of the Chopin piano competition, is a new classical music icon in Korea, setting recording history even before the release of his first solo album.

The 21-year-old pianist’s upcoming album – a live recording of his performances at the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Poland – was the top seller across all music genres at Kyobo Bookstore, the country’s largest book seller, as of 3 p.m. Tuesday -- a feat that no other classical musician has come even close to achieving. 

“This is the first time that a classical music album rose to No. 1 on the all-genre chart,” a Kyobo official said.

The Deutsche Grammophon album, scheduled to be released globally on Nov. 6, contains highlights of Cho’s recital-round performances such as Chopin’s Preludes Op. 28, Nocturne in C Minor Op. 48/1, Piano Sonata No. 2 in B Flat Minor Op. 35 and Scherzo No. 2 in B Flat Minor Op. 31. Presales opened Thursday.

Cho, who was born and raised in Seoul but is currently studying in France, is the first Korean to win the Chopin competition, the piano world’s greatest test that has helped to launch the careers of pianists such as Maurizio Pollini (1960) and Martha Argerich (1965). Held every five years, the latest edition took place with over 70 young pianists from 20 countries participating.

Before Cho, the highest honor that a Korean had earned in the competition was the third prize won by brothers Lim Dong-min and Lim Dong-hyek in 2005.

Some local media likened Cho’s achievement to winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games, saying he may become the biggest classical music star to emerge from Korea.

Cho is to perform at Seoul Arts Center in February along with other winners of the Chopin competition as part of a world tour.

Born in Seoul in 1994, he started piano at 6 and finished high school in Korea before moving to France in 2012. He now studies under Michel Beroff at the Paris Conservatoire.

By Lee Sun-young