Pianist Lim Dong-hyek marks 20th anniversary with new album, recital series
Published : Mar 15, 2022 - 14:58
Updated : Mar 15, 2022 - 15:43
Pianist Lim Dong-hyek plays Shubert’s Piano Sonata No. 21, D, 960 before a press conference held at Cosmos Art Hall in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (Credia)
Korean classical pianist Lim Dong-hyek on Tuesday said that he is still hoping to improve as he marks the 20th anniversary of his debut.

“When I was a teenager and also in my 20s, I focused more on achievements, mainly winning piano competitions. Now there are new tasks in front of me. It might sound a little abstract but I aim to be a better musician,” he said during a press conference at Cosmos Art Hall in southern Seoul for his upcoming solo recital tour.

“I’m not at the age where I can grow technically, but I can still improve to become a performer who can resonate deeply with audiences. But to do that, I need to study hard,” the musician, who is also known for his straightforward personality, added.

Staring Friday, the 37-year-old pianist will take the stage for six recitals in Korea to mark the 20th anniversary of his debut as well as his sixth album which was released on Mar. 10 in Korea and will be out globally on April 8.

Pieces that he will play during the recitals include Shubert’s final pieces--— Piano Sonata No. 20 in A Major, D. 959 and No. 21 in B flat Major, D, 960.

The pianist also talked about what Shubert means to him.

“My feeling toward Shubert can be described as love/hate rather than just love,” he said.

Lim explained that this is because Shubert’s works are challenging for him as a musician who is more used to playing romantic music than classical music.

“I look up to how he plays in a classic way,” he added.

When asked what is the one thing that he regrets the most when looking back on his 20-year career, the pianist came up with an honest answer that made the reporters in attendance burst into laughter.

“Starting to smoke and drink. I should not have started. It is hard to quit. It seems impossible, especially smoking. When I was in my 20s I could pull an all-nighter and still play piano the next day without a problem. I envy my young self and think that I should have taken better care of my health back then,” he said. 
Pianist Lim Dong-hyek plays Shubert’s Piano Sonata No. 21, D, 960 before a press conference held at Cosmos Art Hall in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (Credia)
After signing a contract with EMI Classics at the age of 17, Lim released his first CD in 2002, which included compositions by Chopin, Schubert and Ravel.

He first stole the limelight in the world’s classical music scene by becoming the youngest top prize winner of the 2001 Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud International Piano Competition in Paris.

In 2003, Lim won third place at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Music Competition in Brussels, but he refused to accept the prize worth 15,000 euros ($17,600), saying the juries were biased and he deserved better.

During the press conference, Lim recalled this moment.

“I am not sure about my action’s impact in the Korean classical music scene, but when looking at what I had to deal with after that, I think it had a negative impact,” Lim said.

He explained that living as the musician that refused the Queen Elizabeth Music Competition prize was not easy, especially when performing in Belgium and some other European countries where he felt unwelcomed after the incident.

Toward the end of the press conference, the pianist emphasized that he welcomes different feedback from audiences during the upcoming recital tour.

“I hope I can get a lot of feedback from many people. That will be helpful to me in deciding how I want to navigate my future career,” he said.

Lim’s recitals will take place on Friday and March 26 at Seoul Art Center, May 12 in Gwangju and 13 in Ulsan. His last performance will be held on June 1 at Arts Center Incheon. Ticket prices range from 40,000 won ($32.22) to 100,000 won.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)