Synonymous in Korea with music pleasing to both the ear and the mind is the Gayagum music of Hwang Byung-Ki. He is a leading composer, performer, and scholar of Korean traditional music. Born in Seoul in 1936, he studied Gayageum and composition at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts from 1951, continuing to learn traditional music while taking a degree in law at Seoul National University.
In 1990 he led a group of South Korean musicians at a Music Festival for Reunification in Pyeongyang, North Korea, and was named Performing Artist of the Year by the Korean Critics’ association. Since 1974 he has been Professor of Korean music at Ewha Woman’s University, and he has also served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington (1965) and a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1986).
He has toured widely around the world since 1964, performing both traditional pieces and his own compositions in major venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Paris’ Musee Guimet.
His best-known works feature the twelve-string zither, Gayageum, on which he is a renowned performer. Ranging in style from the evocation of traditional genres to avant-garde experimentation, a selection of these pieces is available on a series of five albums. He has also developed and taught his own unique version of Sanjo, the traditional extended solo music,