Together for violin and double bass

Composer: Isang Yun (b. 1917 - d. 1995)
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Composer: Isang Yun (b. 1917 - d. 1995)

Performance date: 08/07/2018

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1989

Duration: 00:09:56

Recording Engineer: Tom Norton, RTÉ

Instrumentation: 2vn, 2va, 2vc

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Instrumentation Other: vn, db

Artists: Elina Vähäla - [violin]
Niek de Groot - [double bass]


Elina Vähälä [violin], Niek de Groot [double bass]


Isang Yun [1917-1995]

Together for violin and double bass [1989]

1. Yang

2. Yin 

Isang Yun was born in what is present-day South Korea.  His life story was governed by the wars and political events of his time. He was imprisoned by the Japanese during the Second World War and during the Korean War he established an orphanage for war orphans. After the Armistice he taught at Seoul National University before moving to Berlin to complete his musical development, later attending the hypermodern avant-garde courses at Darmstadt and Donaueschingen. Isang Yun was busy making a name for himself when in 1967 the South Korean secret service kidnapped him in West Berlin, spirited him back to Seoul, imprisoned and tortured him and convicted him of spying. He was only released after a worldwide petition from leading artists was presented to the Korean government. In 2006 the Koreans admitted the accusations were a complete fabrication. He never returned to South Korea after his release and spent the last twenty years of his life seeking the democratisation of South Korea and the reunification of the country. He made many visits to North Korea.

Musically he is known for combining modern Western techniques with traditional Korean music. Late in his career much of his music was directed at his passionate advocacy of peace and reconciliation in his homeland. However this evening’s work is pure music, written for his German publisher in the hopes that the publisher’s son and Isang Yun’s violin-playing granddaughter could one day perform the work, but it quickly became apparent this was music only possible for top virtuosos. The work itself is conceived as a musical partnership where the unusual combination of instruments work together to create two contrasted movements – the first based on the central note C, is committed to the active yang principle, whilst the second based on C sharp is committed to the female yin principle. The protagonists are not the instruments but the sound they produce together.

Francis Humphrys