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Biography

  • Born

    24 November 1942 (age 76)

  • Born In

    Taakaev [Takêv], Cambodia

Chinary Ung (born 24 November 1942 in Takéo, Cambodia) is a contemporary classical composer.

After arriving in the United States in 1964 to study clarinet, he additionally studied composition with Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky, receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts from Columbia University in 1974. His music is noted for combining traditional Cambodian musical elements with western instrumentation, and his series of pieces titled Spiral has received considerable acclaim. Now a U.S. resident, Ung teaches at the University of California, San Diego. Previously, he had taught at Northern Illinois University, Connecticut College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Arizona State University. In 1988, he became the first American to win the Grawemeyer Award for musical composition with his piece Inner Voices.

Additionally, he received the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, as well as awards from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, Asia Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts. In October 2007 the Del Sol String Quartet was invited to premiere the composer's Spiral X playing the Library of Congress' collection of Stradivarius instruments. He remains committed to the cause of Cambodian music and culture.

He frequently lectures and performs in Asia and was the principal curator for the 2013 Season of Cambodia festival in New York.

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