Myung-whun Chung is a South Korean pianist and conductor. A student of Olivier Messiaen, he is particularly known for his interpretations of the French composer's works.
Chung studied conducting at the Mannes College of Music and the Juilliard School. He also studied piano with Maria Curcio. Chung was an assistant conductor at the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the music directorship of Carlo Maria Giulini and founder of the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra.
In Europe, Chung was chief conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern from 1984 to 1990. He was principal guest conductor of the Teatro Comunale Florence, from 1987 to 1992. He has conducted virtually all the prominent European and American orchestras and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1986. From 1989 to 1994, Chung served as the Music Director of the Paris Opera. He opened the inaugural season at the new Opéra Bastille . In 1992 he received the Legion of Honour for his contribution to the Paris Opera. Many of his numerous recordings have won international prizes and awards.
In 1995 he was honoured three times at the French Victoires de la musique classique, and was also named Meilleur Chef d'Orchestre de l'Année (best conductor of the year). He directed the world premiere of Messiaen's last work: the Concert à quatre for four soloists and orchestra, which the composer had dedicated to Chung and the Orchestre de la Bastille. He has been the Special Artistic Advisor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra since 2001 and was awarded the highest Record Academy Prize by Japanese critics following his performances in Japan. In addition to being awarded numerous music prizes, Chung has also been honoured with Korea's most distinguished cultural award, the Order of Cultural Merit or Geum-gwan Medal (Gold Crown) 금관장, for his contribution to Korean musical life. He served as Ambassador for the Drug Control Program at the United Nations and was Korea's Honorary Cultural Ambassador.
In 2005, Chung became Principal Conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. In April 2011, the Seoul Philharmonic became the first Asian orchestra to sign a major-label record deal. September 2011, Chung made a cultural breakthrough visit to Pyongyang, North Korea, returning with an agreement to form an orchestra made up of musicians from North and South Korea.