A big part of our nature as humans is our passion. It seems to be the key word these days. But heart has alot to do with excelling as well. This piece illustrates that the emotive side of what ever you do, is profoundly important for your ‘performance’.
Study with Passion, Perform with Heart. By Rachel Park.
Even when viewing her performance as somewhat of an outsider to the world of classical music, HJ Lim’s passion for music and her dedication to the piano is evident to her audience in the most sincere of ways.
HJ Lim’s introduction to music occurred at the very young age of three, as she learned to play music before she could even read and write. Moving from her home in South Korea to Paris alone at the age of twelve, Lim studied with Marc Hoppeler. Three years later, she became the youngest person at the age of fifteen to earn a Diplôme d’Études Musicales Complètes (Normandy). She then graduated with a First Prize and Highest Distinction from the Conservatoire National de Rouen and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. In addition, she was awarded First Prize by unanimous decision at the FLAME Competition in Paris in 2007.
After uploading some videos of her performances to Youtube for her family in South Korea to see her progress, Lim inadvertently acquired a large fan base, generating a huge amount of internet traffic within a short amount of time. In particular, her 2009 performance in Basel, Switzerland of Rachmaninoff’s complete Études-Tableaux and Chopin’s complete Études attracted over a million views. In 2010, HJ Lim created a stir in the classical music world when she decided to perform the complete Beethoven piano sonatas in Paris throughout over eight consecutive days. One year later, she recorded the complete cycle for EMI Classics as her debut recording, at the unheard of age of twenty four.
Lim’s unconventional approach to the thirty-two Beethoven piano sonatas stems from her devoted study of not only the pieces, which are technical monsters themselves, but also of Beethoven’s biographies, diaries, letters and other historical materials. In addition, she divided the Beethoven sonatas into her own headings like “Heroic Ideals”, “Aspects of an Inflexible Personality” and “Eternal Feminine”, illustrating the extent to which she feels personally connected to the emotions of Beethoven expressed in his works. For example, Lim includes Opus 109, initially dedicated to Antonie Brentano (believed to be Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved), under the “Eternal Feminine” heading, a phrase coined by Goethe in “Faust”. Lim describes these interpretations and musings in her own in-depth liner notes.
Lim performs with her long, untied hair let down, tossing it back and forth during climatic moments and then tucking it behind her ear with a swift flick of her hand during the slight pauses between phrases. To some, the overall momentum and arc may seem disoriented and unorganized, but it undeniably contributes to the physical exuberance with which she performs.
Whether or not one agrees with HJ Lim’s interpretation of Beethoven, her dedicated pursuit of the complex composer, which she herself acknowledges as an obsession, can only be admired. Lim abandons the concept of cautiously approaching her art as a career and dives into the music she is so passionate about with an emotional vigor that is both refreshing and inspiring. Her story makes her audience want to believe in the art that impassions her, and in turn place faith in the idea that chasing what you dream your life’s calling to be will not lead you down the wrong path. And if nothing else, music played with such passion and infused with such dedication can only bring about good things to whoever listens.
This article by Rachel Park was previously published by our partners the Urban Times (www.theurbn.com)