Hung-Kuan Chen has been described as one of the great personalities of the music world: enigmatic, brilliant, and versatile. And he is admired both as a performer of uncompromising individuality and as a remarkably inspiring teacher.
Born in Taipei 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 is regarded as an extraordinary interpreter of Beethoven’s music.
Chen’s career was launched when he won First Prize in the Young Concert Artists’ Auditions, which presented him in his New York debut on the Young Concert Artists Series and followed it with a second major New York concert at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. One of the most decorated pianists of his generation, Mr. Chen won top prizes in the Arthur Rubinstein, the Busoni and the Geza Anda International Piano Competitions, along with prizes in the Queen Elisabeth, Montreal, Van Cliburn, and Chopin International Competition. He is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Chen has performed in the major cities of Asia, Europe, and the Americas, where he has appeared with many important orchestras, including Houston, Baltimore, Israel, Montréal, Pittsburgh, the Tonhalle, San Francisco, and Shanghai. He has performed with such highly esteemed conductors as Hans Graf, Christoph Eschenbach, George Cleve, Joseph Silverstein, Andrew Parrott, and Sui Lan, and colleagues including Yo-Yo Ma, Cho-Liang Lin, Roman Totenberg, Denes Zsigmondy, Bion Tsang, Anthony Gigliotti, David Shifrin, Laurence Lesser, and pianists Tema Blackstone and Pi-hsien Chen.
Chen was chair of the piano department of Shanghai Conservatory and continues to codirect the International Piano Academy in Shanghai. Previously he was on the faculty of Boston University and was a Distinguished Artist in Residence at Mount Royal University in Canada. In addition to his current work at New England Conservatory, he is a Professor at Yale University. Chen has adjudicated International Piano Competitions such as the Van Cliburn, Busoni, and Honens, and is known as a brilliant and devoted teacher.
In 1992, Chen suffered an injury to his hand that caused neurological damage and eventually resulted in Focal Dystonia. Through Qi Gong meditation and his own unique research, he was able to heal and return to his life as a concert artist. In 1998, his first post-accident solo recital received rave reviews, and he was described as a transformed artist. Following his 2006 Jordan Hall concert, Richard Dyer wrote in The Boston Globe: "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."
Hung-Kuan Chen recently completed a concert tour playing in San Francisco, Boston, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other major cities worldwide. This followed his 2008 concert in Stern Auditorium of New York's Carnegie Hall and major engagements in Asia in 2009. His Jordan Hall recital this season is the first in a series of live recordings he is projected to complete in 2016.
Hung-Kuan Chen is represented by Opus 3 Artists & Blackstone Artist Management.
Artist Diploma, New England Conservatory. Studies with Russell Sherman. Current director of the International Piano Academy in Shanghai. Former Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Mount Royal Conservatory in Canada. Former piano chair of Shanghai Conservatory, former faculty of Boston University and New England Conservatory's Preparatory School.
Photo by Andrew Hurlbut