Sunwook Kim


London-based Sunwook Kim came to international recognition when he won the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, aged just 18, becoming the competition’s youngest winner for 40 years, as well as its first Asian winner. His performance of Brahms’s Concerto No.1 with the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder in the competition’s finals attracted unanimous praise from the press. Since then, he has established a reputation as one of the finest pianists of his generation, appearing as a concerto soloist in the subscription series of some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra (Gardiner, Harding), Concertgebouw Orchestra (Chung), Berlin Radio Symphony (Janowski), NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Finnish Radio Symphony (Oramo, Manze, Sokhiev), Philharmonia Orchestra (Ashkenazy, Valcuha, Gardner), London Philharmonic (Sinaisky), Radio-France Philharmonic (Chung), NHK Symphony (Steffens), Hallé Orchestra (Elder), and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for his BBC Proms debut in Summer 2014.

In 14/15 he completed a highly acclaimed residency with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Since their Leeds finals together in 2006, Sunwook Kim has also enjoyed an ongoing relationship with the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder, and in season 15/16 they will have a 6-concert tour together with Rachmaninov’s Concerto No.3. Future concerto highlights also include a performance of Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto with the Radio-France Philharmonic at the prestigious Festival d’Automne in Paris, and debut projects with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (Schumann with Paavo Järvi), Hamburger Symphoniker (Rachmaninov 3), Opera di Roma (Beethoven 4) and the RTSI Orchestra in Lugano (Beethoven 3 with Vladimir Ashkenazy).

Recitals highlights to date include regular appearances in the “Piano 4 Etoiles” series at Salle Pleyel in Paris, as well as debuts at the Wigmore Hall, the London International Piano Series (Queen Elizabeth Hall), Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, La Roque d’Antheron International Piano Festival in France, Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Symphony Hall Osaka, Brussels Klara Festival, Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Klavier-Festival Ruhr and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele. In 12/13, he presented a complete cycle of the Beethoven Sonatas at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul. Future recital plans include returns to the “Piano 4 Etoiles” series at the Philharmonie in Paris, the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, the Wigmore Hall in London, and a tour in Japan.

In Autumn 2015, Sunwook Kim will release his debut recital disc on the Accentus label, featuring  Beethoven’s Waldstein and Hammerklavier sonatas. This will be followed by a second Accentus recital release in January 2016, with Cesar Franck’s Prelude, choral et fugue and Brahms’s Sonata No.3. His discography to date includes two concerto recordings, both on Deutsche Grammophon and with the Seoul Philharmonic conducted by Myung-Whun Chung: a CD featuring Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto (2014) which attracted outstanding reviews and awards from BBC Music Magazine and International Classical Music Awards, and a CD featuring Beethoven’s Concerto No.5 (2013). 

Born in Seoul in 1988, Sunwook Kim began the piano at the age of 3. He gave his debut recital aged just 10, and this was followed by his concerto debut two years later. He graduated from the Korean National University of Arts in February 2008, and then completed an MA in conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. Besides Leeds, international awards include the first prize at the 2004 Ettlingen Competition (Germany) and the 2005 Clara Haskil Competition (Switzerland). In 2013, Sunwook was selected by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn to become the first beneficiary of its new Mentoring Programme, a status which grants him exclusive access to the house’s unique collections and resources.

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News & Features


Concerto No 3

Concerto No 1
Concerto No 2
Concerto No 3
Concerto No 4
Concerto No 5
Triple Concerto

Concerto No 1
Concerto No 2

Concerto No 1
Concerto No 2

Concerto in A minor

Concerto No 9 K.271 in E flat
Concerto No 20 K.466 in D minor
Concerto No 21 K.467 in C
Concerto No 22 K.482 in E flat
Concerto No 23 K.488 in A
Concerto No 24 K.491 in C minor
Concerto No 27 K.595 in B flat

Concerto No 1

Concerto No 2
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Concerto in G major

Concerto No 2

Concerto in A minor

Concerto No 1

Konzertstucke in F Minor, Op.79

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    Debut recital recording



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Duo recital with Jian Wang

Sunwook Kim and Jian Wang will be performing the following programme during the 16-17 season:

BACH Cello Suite No 3
SCHNITTKE Cello Sonata No 1

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Piano Concerto no. 3

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Lighthouse Poole.

"It very much felt as though Karabits and Kim had been holding everything in reserve for this movement, a thrilling, roller-coaster ride of emotion to the very end. In the contrasting episodes, there was a blend of humour, playfulness and reflection; Kim again showed the huge range of his pianistic talent in the set of four variations squeezed into the overall structure of the movement."

Recital, 25 June 2014

City of London Festival

"The swell of suspended harmonies was perfectly controlled, the chords perfectly struck and voiced, and Kim always kept the sense of restless searching at just the right level of intensity." ( Scriabin, Sonata no. 3) The Guardian
"His real strengths were to be found in the second theme of this movement, where emotions melted, and in the ‘Aria’, a message of love to Clara, which was taken slowly but with phrasing beautifully aligned. The lead out from capricious scherzo to the determined finale was ideally wrought and the transition from darkness to light was fully affirmative." (Schumann; Sonata no. 1)

Unsuk CHIN

Piano Concerto

NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg

"...ein Tastenteugel sondergleichen, dem kein Hindernisrennen zu vertrackt, kein Motivpuzzle zu verzwickt und kein Partikelgestöber zu chaotisch ist. " Die Welt, 17 February 2014


Piano Concerto no. 5

Seoul Philhamonic Orchestra, Mwung Whun Chung, recording

Kim and Chung seem very much on the same wavelength, interpretatively, from the opening flourish onwards, and they surmount this work's tricky transitions with great naturalness... The finale has an infectious energy to it, Kim making the trenchant rhythms sound lithe rather than obstreperous.  Gramophone, November 2013


Piano Concerto no. 2

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits

Surely destined to be known as one of the greats to have emerged from the Leeds international piano competition, Kim was more expressive in tone and phrasing – impassioned and graceful, thrusting and rhapsodically introverted in turn. The News, Portsmouth

Concert, November 2012

London Symphony Orchestra

"The interplay between Kim and an LSO on peak form took us to the heart of the matter, with an acute sense of classical style rare in any pianist. Everything flowed effortlessly and yet had the ‘gift to be simple’ whilst never sounding bland." Classical
"Kim’s strong supple fingers and super-restrained use of the sustaining pedal pulled focus on brilliant articulation and though he didn’t go in for the kind of heightened poetry that can take this piece into the realms of the other worldly his strong singing tone was as honest as it was expressive." The Arts Desk

Concert, January 2011

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

"Intuitive musicianship from pianist Sunwook Kim in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2 filled every bar with an extraordinary sense of lyricism. 
If the first movement spoke of earthly beauty, then the Larghetto was surely heaven-sent; angelic in phrase and feeling and conveyed with the most sensitive and sensuous fingerwork. 
Even the final Allegro’s mazurka was touched with an uncommon poetic aura and all under the sympathetic accompaniment of Kirill Karabits"

Bournmouth Echo