Myung-Whun Chung began his musical career as a pianist, making his debut with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of seven. In 1974 he won second prize at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. After his musical studies at the Mannes School and Juilliard School in New York, he was appointed Carlo Maria Giulini’s assistant in 1979 at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and became Associate Conductor two years later.
He was Music Director of the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1984 to 1990, Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro Comunale of Florence from 1987 to 1992 and Music Director of the Opéra de Paris-Bastille from 1989 to 1994. The year 2000 marked his return to Paris as Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. His love for Italy has been at the basis of his extensive work in that country for many years, including, from 1997 to 2005, his position as Principal Conductor of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome. He also appears regularly at the Teatro La Fenice, most recently for Verdi’s Otello. In Germany, he became Principal Guest Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, the first conductor to hold the post in the history of the orchestra. Outside Europe, he is increasingly committed to musical and social causes in Asia through his role as Music Advisor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and, from 2006, Music Director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Myung-Whun Chung has conducted virtually all the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic, the Concertgebouworkest, all the major London and Parisian orchestras, Filharmonica della Scala, Bayerische Rundfunk, Dresden Staatskapelle, the Boston and Chicago Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras.
An exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon since 1990, many of his numerous recordings have won international prizes and awards. Recent releases include Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with the Orchestre de l'Opéra Bastille, as well as Mahler’s Symphony no.2, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique’ Symphony and a Beethoven disc, all with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Myung-Whun Chung has been the recipient of many honours and prizes for his artistic work, including the Premio Abbiati and the Arturo Toscanini prize in Italy and the Légion d’Honneur (1992) in France. In 1991, the Association of French Theatres and Music Critics named him ‘Artist of the Year’ and in 1995 he won the ‘Victoire de la Musique’ prize three times. He was named a Commandeur dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2011.
Deeply sensitive to humanitarian and ecological problems of our age, Myung-Whun Chung has devoted an important part of his life to these causes. In 1994 he launched a series of musical and environmental projects in Korea for youth. He served as Ambassador for the Drug Control Program at the United Nations (UNDCP); in 1995, he was named ‘Man of the year’ by UNESCO and also ‘Most Distinguished Personality’ by the Korean press association. In 1996, he received the ‘Kumkuan’, the highest cultural award of the Korean government for his contribution to Korean musical life. Myung-Whun Chung now serves as Honorary Cultural Ambassador for Korea, the first in the Korean government’s history. In 2008, he was designated the first conductor named as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).