A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung

Book - 2017
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The spellbinding memoir of a violin virtuoso who loses the instrument that had defined her both on stage and off -- and who discovers, beyond the violin, the music of her own voice

Her first violin was tiny, harsh, factory-made; her first piece was "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star." But from the very beginning, Min Kym knew that music was the element in which she could swim and dive and soar. At seven years old, she was a prodigy, the youngest ever student at the famed Purcell School. At eleven, she won her first international prize; at eighteen, violinist great Ruggiero Ricci called her "the most talented violinist I've ever taught." And at twenty-one, she found "the one," the violin she would play as a soloist: a rare 1696 Stradivarius. Her career took off. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned.

Then, in a London caf#65533;, her violin was stolen. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function, stunned into silence.

In this lucid and transfixing memoir, Kym reckons with the space left by her violin's absence. She sees with new eyes her past as a child prodigy, with its isolation and crushing expectations; her combustible relationships with teachers and with a domineering boyfriend; and her navigation of two very different worlds, her traditional Korean family and her music. And in the stark yet clarifying light of her loss, she rediscovers her voice and herself.
Publisher: New York :, Crown,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780451496072
Branch Call Number: ANF 787.2092 KYM
Characteristics: 227 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 22, 2017

This is a memoir of a violin virtuoso who loses the instrument that had defined her both on stage and off – and who discovers, beyond the violin, the music of her own voice.

The memoir is sad and very tragic. It will resonate with musicians and music lovers alike.

May 21, 2017

This was a lovely book on so many levels. The writing is wonderful. Min Kym was a child prodigy and she writes about what it's like to be a prodigy, AND what it's like to be a prodigy in a Korean family (albeit in London) that defines itself by a traditional culture. Lots of info on Korean life and for one's parents to have gone through the Korean War.

I am not a musician nor do I have a particularly discerning ear but I found so much to pull me in, so much to teach me. There is music that goes with this book--when a piece is mentioned there is a clef mark and the reader can go to a special CD to hear that piece.

Kym writes about other prodigies, also. Heifetz for one. Her experiences with her teachers was fascinating. I have heard that the person who teaches the prodigy (or opera singer) has elevated status. Some musicians in Europe say things like: my teacher was taught by X and X was taught by Stravinsky. Kind of like my therapist was taught by X and X was in therapy with Freud. (joke) (but true)

And then: the loss of her 1690s Stradivarius violin.

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