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Video on demand from 24 Apr 2020

Elbphilharmonie Sessions: William Youn

The South Korean pianist plays Philipp Maintz’s »Étude No. 3«

Video available until 24 Apr 2030

William Youn

The performer

A »true poet«, a »philosopher of the keyboard« with a »feeling for subtle nuances«: thus the critics, writing about William Youn. The young man from South Korea travelled quite a distance to realise his dream of becoming a pianist. From kindergarten in Seoul, where he first heard the sound of the piano, via Boston, Hanover and Como to Munich, where he now lives and whence he embarks on his trips to concert halls all over the world. But he has remained a poet: »What matters to me is to turn the notes into something human. That's how I see my profession.«

William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
William Youn
Philipp Maintz / Session William Youn
Philipp Maintz / Session William Youn

The Music

»Between the ages of 16 and 18 I asked myself whether I wanted to become a composer or a painter«, says Philipp Maintz from the city of Aachen. »In the end I decided to compose because it doesn't make such a mess – though this is not exactly true when you consider all the crumbs from the eraser.« He obviously made the right decision: Maintz writes music for leading interpreters, for concert halls and opera houses. Only in 2019 was his chamber opera  »Thérèse« performed at the Hamburg International Music Festival. He has now composed the imaginative »Étude Nr. 3« for William Youn to play at the Elbphilharmonie.

Maintz always invents his own rules when composing – and then alters the outcome with free intuition in a second step. This also applies to his »Étude No. 3«, which revolves around the topic of dance. Contrary to what one might expect from the title, this is not a string of dry piano exercises. Instead, Philipp Maintz presents old Baroque dances and harmonies in a new guise. Time and again, dancing, swirling figures  appear, only to fade away again at the very next instant. Easy to play as the composition may sound in Youn's hands, Philipp Maintz had quite a struggle to complete the score: »I was at loggerheads with the Étude No. 3 for quite some time before I was happy with the result«, the composer says. »It's not easy in the slightest to write for one instrument alone, and especially not for a piano. You can't hide, everything is in full view.«

Recital Hall Foyer
Recital Hall Foyer © Michael Zapf

The location

The dark wood panelling made of French oak gives the Recital Hall a cosy atmosphere, putting the listener in the mood for the intimate concert formats and the room's warm acoustics.

About the series

Artists record exclusive music videos at the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle for Elbphilharmonie Sessions – sometimes in unusual locations offstage. Discover the concert halls from the inside. Discover what they sound like.

Text: Laura Etspüler (Stand 24.04.2020)

What matters to me is to turn the notes into something human. That's how I see my profession.

William Youn

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