Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?
My mother is a composer and she taught many piano students at home so I became familiar with the sound of piano when I was very little. I remember enjoying the beautiful sound, and I was amazed that my fingers could make music. As a child, I always liked singing and I think I tried searching for my own way of singing on piano, too. Since then my dream was to become a pianist who performs all around the world.
Who or what were the most important influences on your playing?
I think I cannot just pick one. Music is a reflection of life, and all I absorb, observe and experience in life influence my playing.
One day when I was twelve in Japan, my grandmother bought me two cassette tapes with Horowitz’s playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. I didn’t know who he was and didn’t know much about different pianists back then, but his playing of Beethoven’s third movement of Moonlight sonata made my heart run. I remember very clearly that I was extremely excited about the inner beats of that movement. I also grew very closely to Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies and Chopin’s music.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I guess challenges change according to where you are in life. I must say that the greatest challenge nevertheless is to accept what we call ‘Ars longa, Vita brevis’ (Art is long, Life is short). I can only do my best in music, so I give in and be humble before music. It is so easy to let your ego burn yourself, but if you truly appreciate the beauty of music nothing else but for the sake of music, then you learn and grow.
And I like challenges in general, so I gladly accept them. It is so easy to give up, so give up giving it up!!
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I am happy when I feel that the audience empathizes with me in music. Sometimes it is not easy. But there are certain moments that I feel connected to the listeners. Those moments give me a heartfelt pleasure.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
I like concert halls with good acoustics. Performing is listening and the acoustic is very important.
I used to love intimate spaces for a performance, but nowadays I prefer spacious venues where I can project farther.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I enjoy complete silence. I like to imagine sound before creating or listening. I don’t listen to music all the time but when I do, I enjoy listening to Lied, Beethoven String Quartets, Kreisler, Cortot, J.S. Bach, and many more.
Who are your favourite musicians?
There are so many for so many different reasons!
My favourite pianist of all time is Alfred Cortot. He really has a distinctive tone I love.
But there are so many musicians who I respect and admire, not only limited to pianists. The list will go on and on. Being a good pianist is one thing, but being a good musician is more important for me.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The Berlin Philharmonie Hall, where the stage is surrounded by the audience in 360 degrees. I felt a bit dizzy in the beginning as everywhere I looked, I could have eye contact with the audience. I found it most fascinating, and the audiences in Germany are such sincere listeners. I felt that they really expected to hear music not a show-off. It was a very special experience.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Love. Love life. Embrace human nature. Be joyful with what life gives you and cherish.
There is a Russian poem by Pushkin I used to enjoy in my teenage years.
Should this life sometime deceive you,
Don’t be sad or mad at it!
In the day of grief, be mid
Merry days will come, believe.
Heart is living in tomorrow:
Present is dejected here:
In a moment passes sorrow:
That which passes will be dear
Music is to cherish life. And musicians, performers in specific, should carry enormously positive spirit even in the midst of performing the gloomiest music in order to do so, and that comes from loving.
It takes great maturity. It is a great mind that enables all, not a dexterity.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have been working on the programme for my Wigmore Hall bebut Recital (which took place on April 23): Schumann Arabesque, Fantasiestuecke Op. 12, Chopin Sonata No. 3 and Mazurkas, and a UK premiere of Sean Hickey’s Cursive.
After the debut recital, I will be working on character pieces I have commissioned with American composer Henry Martin, and all Beethoven Piano Concertos for which I will be making a recording with DELOS next year.
I enjoy travelling, discovering new façade of life by experiencing different cultures, food, people and language.
And by travelling, giving concerts, it is the most exciting experience.
But what really nurtures my mind, what makes myself in tune is the connection with God and another human being. I think my longing for deeper connecting with another being is a fuel for making music.
In everyday life I love hanging out with friends, and walking in Riverside Park with my puppy.
Pianist Klara Min has appeared in concert in North America, Europe and her native South Korea in major concert halls, including the Berlin Philharmonie Hall, Gasteig Hall in Munich, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) hall in Seoul. She made her Carnegie Weill Recital début in 2002 as a winner of the Artists International Competition in New York. She is a recipient of a Samsung scholarship. Her competition prizes have included the Grand Prize of the IBLA Grand Prize International Competition, the Best Performance of Mozart Prize at the Viotti-Valsesia International Piano Competition in Italy and a top prize at the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati. Born into a musical family in Seoul, Klara Min started her first piano lesson with her composer mother, going on to study at Yewon School and Seoul Arts High School, the Manhattan School of Music and the Lübeck Musikhochschule. She has been a member of the piano faculty at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an assistant teacher at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She is a Yamaha Artist.