Since 2012 – Isang Yun Prize (€ 2000)

Special Prize

20th century composers

Offered by the composer Mrs Unsuk Chin.
Mrs Unsuk Chin has wished to support a Special Prize from her countryman and composer Isang Yun, known and respected throughout the world.

The candidates will be free to choose a piece among the entire work of the composer.

Isaang Yun © DR

Isang Yun © DR


Isang Yun, Korean-born German composer who sought to express a distinctly Asian sensibility by means of contemporary Western techniques.

Yun began composing at the age of 14 and studied music in Japan in Ōsaka and Tokyo. He returned to Korea, where he was active in the resistance movement against the Japanese during World War II and afterward taught music in T’ongyŏng, Pusan, and Seoul. He later went to Europe for further study, first in Paris (1956–57) and then as a pupil of Boris Blacher in Berlin (1958–59). Following imprisonment (1967–69) in South Korea as an alleged communist, he began teaching in Berlin, becoming a German citizen in 1971.

Yun’s main purpose in his compositions was to develop Korean music using East Asian performance practices but with European instruments and other techniques. His operas derive inspiration from Taoist and yin-yang philosophy. He also wrote in the idiom of protest, recalling his time in prison in a 1976 cello concerto and remembering the victims of the 1980 Kwangju massacre in an orchestral memoriam in 1981. Other works included Loyang (1962), Réak (1966), Piri (1971), and Engel in Flammen (1994).


2012 – Andrew Zhou (United States)
2014 – Yukyeong Ji (South Korea)
2016 – Prize not awarded
2018 – Hyeonjun Jo (South Korea)
2020 – Haruka Ebina (Japan)
2022 – Chi Ho Han (South Korea)


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