Myung-Whun Chung began his musical career as a pianist, winning second prize at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1974. After his musical studies at the Mannes School and Juilliard School in New York, he was appointed Carlo Maria Giulini’s assistant in 1979 at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and became Associate Conductor two years later.
He was Music Director of the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1984 to 1990, Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro Comunale di Firenze from 1987 to 1992 and Music Director of the Opéra de Paris-Bastille from 1989 to 1994. The year 2000 marked his return to Paris as Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. His love for Italy has been the basis of his extensive work in that country for many years, including, from 1997 to 2005, his position as Principal Conductor of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. He also appears regularly at the Teatro alla Scala and Teatro La Fenice, recently conducting Madama Butterfly, Simon Boccanegra, Otello and Tristan und Isolde. Other recent opera engagements include La Traviata, Rigoletto and Otello at the Wiener Staatsoper. In Germany, he became Principal Guest Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, the first conductor to hold the post in the history of the orchestra. Outside Europe, he is increasingly committed to musical and social causes in Asia through his role as Honorary Conductor Laureate of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and previously as Music Director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Highlights of the 2020-21 season include a production of Fidelio at Teatro La Fenice and Greek National Opera, Verdi’s Requiem with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and conducting the Royal Concertgebouw and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras. Myung-Whun Chung will also continue his regular collaborations with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Filarmonica della Scala.
Myung-Whun Chung has conducted some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Rundfunk and the Wiener Philharmoniker, as well as all the major London and Parisian orchestras. In the USA, he has collaborated with the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra.
An exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon since 1990, many of his numerous recordings have won international prizes and awards. Recent releases include Messiaen Turangalîla Symphony and Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with the Orchestre de l'Opéra Bastille, as well as Mahler Symphony N°2, Mahler Symphony N°9, Tchaikovsky Symphony N°6 Pathetique and a Beethoven disc, all with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Myung-Whun Chung has been the recipient of many honours and prizes for his artistic work, including the Premio Abbiati and the Arturo Toscanini prize in Italy and the Légion d’Honneur (1992) in France. In 1991, the Association of French Theatres and Music Critics named him Artist of the Year and in 1995 he won the Victoire de la Musique prize three times. He was named a Commandeur dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2011. In 2017, he was appointed as “Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia.
Deeply sensitive to humanitarian and ecological problems of our age, Myung-Whun Chung has devoted an important part of his life to these causes. In 1994, he launched a series of musical and environmental projects in Korea for youth. He served as Ambassador for the Drug Control Program at the United Nations (UNDCP); in 1995, he was named Man of the year by UNESCO and also Most Distinguished Personality by the Korean press association. In 1996, he received the Kumkuan, the highest cultural award of the Korean government for his contribution to Korean musical life. Myung-Whun Chung now serves as Honorary Cultural Ambassador for Korea, the first in the Korean government’s history. In 2008, he was designated the first conductor named as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).