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Hung-Kuan Chen

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Hung-Kuan Chen
Visiting Professor of Piano Yale School of Music
At YSM Since: 2010
Award(s): Queen Elisabeth Music Competition Finalist (1987), Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Highest Ranking Pianist of the United States (1985), Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition Second Prize (1983), Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition “with particular distinction” (1982), Geza Anda International Piano Competition Second Prize (1982), International Chopin Piano Competition, Young Concert Artists’ Auditions First Prize, Avery Fisher Career Grant
Teaching and performing complement each other. Teaching is sharing, and by sharing, our search continues in a more objective way. When I share, I become the beneficiary of the results of the investigation and the continued questioning. This benefits my playing, as I’m often coming up with new ideas and insights.

Hung-Kuan Chen

Teaching and performing complement each other. Teaching is sharing, and by sharing, our search continues in a more objective way. When I share, I become the beneficiary of the results of the investigation and the continued questioning. This benefits my playing, as I’m often coming up with new ideas and insights.

Pianist Hung-Kuan Chen’s life and career has been a vivid example of the concept of yin-and-yang. In that Chinese philosophy, apparent opposites are actually complementary: each fulfills a need in the other; one cannot exist without the other. Chen embodies a synthesis of seeming opposites that coalesce into a unique artistic personality. He is a pianist of uncompromising individuality and an inspiring pedagogue, and has been regarded as an extraordinary interpreter of Beethoven’s music. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised in Germany, Chen’s early studies fostered strong roots in Germanic Classicism which he tempered with the sensibility of Chinese philosophy; the result is a dynamic and imaginative artistry. He has appeared in the music capitals of Asia, Europe, and the Americas and has collaborated with many major orchestras, conductors, and colleagues around the world.

At Yale, Chen teaches a studio of graduate-level piano students and has performed on Yale’s Horowitz Piano Series. Previously, he served as the chair of the piano department of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and was on the piano faculty at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He has adjudicated prominent international piano competitions such as the Van Cliburn, Busoni, Shanghai, and Honens.

In 1992, Chen suffered an injury to his hand which caused neurological damage and eventually resulted in focal dystonia. Through meditation and his own research, he was able to heal. Upon Chen’s return to the stage, The Boston Globe declared, “Hung-Kuan Chen is back in prime technical form after years of struggle following an injury, but those years have made him a different pianist, and a better one. This man plays music with uncommon understanding and the instrument with uncommon imagination.”

A many-faceted individual, Chen has painted and drawn, danced, and played several other instruments. He is a serious chef, bakes his own bread and homebrews beer. He is an artisan of home improvement, a skilled woodworker and an electronics whiz. He is a meticulous piano tuner, a knowledgeable jazz enthusiast, and an avid hiker. He brings the same level of curiosity and dedication to both spiritual and worldly pursuits.