The fusion of Korean and Western elements in Isang Yun's Konzert für Flöte und Kleines Orchester
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The Korean born composer, Isang Yun (1917-1995) is renowned for his synthesis of traditional Korean music and Taoist philosophy with Western compositional techniques. Yun adapted the Eastern concept of a single tone as the basis of a work into Western music. Yun’s early works (1959-1975) are based on the twelve tone system, while the compositions in his later periods (1975-1992) use a simplified musical language based on Eastern sounds. Yun’s Konzert für Flöte und Kleines Orchester (Concerto for Flute and Small Orchestra, 1977) features this language. The Konzert is influenced by three elements: first, the sound and performance techniques of traditional Korean wind instruments including the daegum, the danso, and the piri; second, Taoism, particularly in the way the work evokes a pervasive dialectic of Yin and Yang; and third, a programmatic fantasy influenced by two Korean poems, the anonymous Chungsanboelkok (Poem of a Clear Mountain) and Seok-cho Sin’s related poem, Chungsana, Malhayeora (Speak, the Clear Mountain). Focusing on the intersection of these three elements, this document explores the flute concerto in detail. It includes an overview of Yun’s stylistic influences, in particular the Korean instruments and performance practice he evokes in the work. It also describes the short period in which Yun composed his thirteen concertos (1976-1992), the musical style of which reflects his experience of abduction and imprisonment as well as his broader political and social concerns. This is followed by a compositional and stylistic analysis of the work, including a discussion of the programmatic fantasy. Finally, the document presents a detailed guide to the technical requirements for the solo flute in this work which requires the soloist to possess a high techniqual ability in order to play them according to the composer’s intention.