A middle-aged violinist stood on stage at the Cosmos Hall in Seoul on Tuesday. He played “Songs My Mother Taught Me” by Antonin Dvorák's. Just before putting the second verse up an octave, an emotional sigh burst out of the violinist. It was a showcase of violinist Kim Eung-soo’s (professor at Hanyang University) new album, “Das Leben (Life).”
I wanted to capture the joy and sorrow we experience in life through my violin,” said the violinist after finishing his performance with his wife and pianist Chae Moon-young. “For me, an album is a record of my life. It is not just a record of my own but a story that people can relate to.”
His father passed away in 2016 and his mother died last year. He wanted to include the inevitable theme of life and death in his album. He explained that his 2017 album, “Longing” is his “autobiographical story volume 1” and this album is “volume 2.”
He wanted to “Salut D’Amour (Love’s Greetings)” by Elgar his mother loved on the first track of the album but decided to put Dvorák's “Four Romantic Pieces,” which deals with the joy and sorrow of life, on the first track instead. The album also features “Sicilienne by Maria Theresia von Paradis,” which motivated him to become a violinist.
His life as a performer was not easy. He entered the Sonata Section of the Maria Canals Competition with his newly wedded wife in 2004 because they were in desperate need of the prize to make ends meet. They became the winner and received 30 million won in prize but he suffered from facial paralysis in 2004 and 2006. It was when his career began to pick up speed immediately after performing with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra at the Berliner Philharmoniker’s hall. He had to cancel his tour to Russia, which included 14 recitals, in 2006.
The reason he returned to Korea in 2012 and became a professor at Hanyang University was because he had to take care of his parents after his father’s company went out of business. The “Lutoslawski: Subito (meaning ‘suddenly’ ‘soon’ in Italian)” included in the album carries the meaning of the unpredictable suddenness that life brings.
Kim will have a concert to celebrate the release of his new album at the IBK Chamber Hall in Seoul Arts Center (SAC). Together with his companion in life and art Chae Moon-young, he will play some pieces in his album along with Janáček’s Piano Sonata and Mozart Sonata No. 21.
“Janáček’s Piano Sonata dealt with death and Mozart’s Sonata No. 21 was written shortly after his mother’s death,” Kim said. “After going through a lot, I always think of the “end.” I want my last performance to be the best one. For that, I practice.”