31 May 1936
Jongno District, Seoul, Korea, Republic of
31 January 2018 (aged 81)
Hwang Byungki (황병기, 31 May 1936, Seoul — 31 January 2018) was the foremost South Korean player of the gayageum, a 12-string zither with silk strings. Hwang is also a composer and an authority on Korean sanjo, a form of traditional Korean instrumental music.
Hwang Byungki (the family name is Hwang) was 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.
He received first prizes in the National Traditional Music Competition in 1954 and 1956, the National Music Prize in 1965, the Korean Cinema Music Award in 1973, and the prestigious Jungang Cultural Grand Prize in 1992. 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 Byungki Hwang 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 serves on the government's Cultural Properties Preservation Committee, and in 2000 was appointed to the National Academy of Arts.
Byungki Hwang has toured widely 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 plucked zither, kayagŭm 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 5 albums.
Byungki Hwang has also developed and taught his own unique version of sanjo, the traditional extended solo music for kayagŭm.
Hwang died on 31 Jan 2018.
For further information, please visit his official website www.bkhwang.com.
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