Min-Jin Kym

Biography by

The Korean-born English violinist Min Kym has made headlines twice: first in 2010, when her Stradivarius violin was stolen from her during a stop at a London fast food restaurant, and again in 2017, when…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

The Korean-born English violinist Min Kym has made headlines twice: first in 2010, when her Stradivarius violin was stolen from her during a stop at a London fast food restaurant, and again in 2017, when she released Gone, a memoir recalling not only that event, but her career before and after it.

Kym was born in South Korea in 1978, but moved with her family to London at age three. She took up the violin three years later and instantly showed major talent, winning acceptance at the Purcell School of Music as the youngest student ever to attend the school; at 11 she appeared on television. She repeated that feat at 16, becoming the youngest student ever to win the title of foundation scholar at the prestigious Royal College of Music. Kym received the first Heifetz Prize, an appropriate honor inasmuch as her style has followed that of the great Russian-American artist. An important teacher, and another influence on her style, was Ruggiero Ricci.

The conductor Sir Georg Solti praised Kym's "exceptional natural talent, mature musicality and mastery of the violin," and she began to make major concerto and recital appearances. Her early recording career was promising, but intermittent; she recorded for the small Claudio label in the U.K. in 2001 and then made her major-label debut with an album on Sony Classical featuring Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, in 2010. That year disaster struck: as Kym was eating with her boyfriend at a Pret a Manger restaurant near London's Euston railway station, her 1696 Stradivarius was stolen. The instrument was recovered in the English Midlands three years later, with only minor damage, but Kym suffered from depression and anorexia in the interim. After the violin's recovery, it was sold at auction for insurance purposes. In 2017 Kym released her memoir Gone, with the book accompanied by a CD tracing the stages of her career; the book also dealt with her life as a prodigy in a strict Korean family.