Isang Yun was born on 17 September 1917 near Tongyeong, South Korea, and received his first musical training (cello and composition) in Korea and Japan. Active opposition to the Japanese occupation resulted in his being imprisoned until the end of World War II. After gaining his freedom, he spent a period teaching music at Korean high schools and universities.
In 1956 Yun travelled to Europe to continue his studies in Paris and Berlin (with Boris Blacher), also attending the Summer Courses in Darmstadt.
Yun became a West German citizen in 1971, and was a resident of West Berlin from 1964.
Yun was abducted from Germany by the Korean Park regime, who imprisoned him from 1967 to 1969, and his release was followed by a period of political activity on behalf of the restitution of democracy in the country of his birth.
Since his return to Germany, he taught from 1969 at the High School of Music in Hanover, becoming professor of composition at the High School of Arts in Berlin (1970-85).
He was a member of the Hamburg and Berlin Academies of Arts and Salzburg's Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea as well as an honorary member of the ISCM, and held an honorary doctorate from Tübingen University and the German Federal Cross of Merit, among many other distinctions. Isang Yun died on 3 November 1995 in Berlin.
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes
Selected works: Bara for orchestra (1960), Om mani padme hum for soloists, choir and orchestra (1964), Der Traum des LiuTung, opera (1965), Réak for orchestra (1966), Die Witwe des Schmetterlings, opera (1967-68), Images for flute, oboe, violin and cello (1968), Geisterliebe, opera (1971), Sim Tjong, opera (1971-72), Konzertante Figuren for small orchestra (1972), Pièce concertante for ensemble (1976), Muak for orchestra (1978), Exemplum in memoriam Kwangju for orchestra (1981), five symphonies (1982-83, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987), My Land, My People for soloists, choir and orchestra based on texts by eleven South Korean poets (1987), Chamber Symphony no. 1 (1987), Chamber Symphony no. 2 Den Opfern der Freiheit (1989), Silla for orchestra (1992), Engel in Flammen. Memento and Epilogue for orchestra, soprano and female choir (1994).