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When she recorded a complete cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas in 2011, HJ Lim was only age 24, a youngster compared to other pianists, who usually wait until later in their careers to tackle the monumental set. She was also among the first classical musicians who used the internet to establish an audience, which would lead to contracts to make traditional recordings and tour. In interviews, Lim has said she learned to read and write music before learning to read and write the Korean language. She herself, at the age of 12, decided to move to France from South Korea to further her music studies, where her teachers included Marc Hoppeler and Henri Barda. To show her parents what she had been doing, she posted videos to YouTube and gained something of a following, as many other pianists of the time were doing. A 2009 video of Lim playing Flight of the Bumblebee was viewed more than half-a-million times. Lim did not play in her homeland publicly until 2013. After immersive study of the music and its historical and cultural settings, she performed the Beethoven sonatas in a series of Paris recitals in 2010 before recording them. It was not the only complete set of works she felt compelled to learn, taking up the music of Ravel and Chopin also. EMI Classics signed her and issued the Beethoven set, first in digital form, to gain a younger audience, with a box set out later. This worked: the recording debuted at number one on several classical music charts, including the iTunes charts. Lim has performed many challenging works from the literature, by composers such as Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin. Since the Beethoven release, she has been performing with major orchestras and in recital in Europe, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, and São Paulo, among many other places. Lim's second EMI release, from 2013, features music by Ravel and Scriabin. In 2016, her book Le son du Silence (The Sound of Silence) described her experiences as a foreign student in France and her musical philosophy.
© Patsy Morita /TiVo
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