Violinist Chung: back from finger collapse, to play the 'one note'

Fri Nov 28, 2014 5:31am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Losing the use of her left index finger pretty much put an end in 2005 to the high-flying, globe-trotting career of Korean violin virtuoso Kyung Wha Chung.

"During a rehearsal my finger just collapsed and I couldn't play anymore," Chung, who will be playing her first London recital next week in more than 10 years, told Reuters in an interview.

The injury, due to weakening she attributes to a cortisone overdose, might have thrown a lesser spirit than Chung, 66, into a spiral of despair. Instead, she is full of enthusiasm for making a limited comeback and can also see a macabre upside to her injury.

"Why do you think you are having an interview with me?" the diminutive Chung, who still seems to have much of the energy she displayed as a dynamo of the concert circuit in her youth, said with a twinkle in her eye.

"Because you are curious what does a violinist like me go through when I have a hand injury. There are a gazillion people who have hand injuries."

For violinists, simply put, losing the use of the left index finger makes it impossible to press down on the strings to produce the right notes, rendering them a bit like a one-handed pianist.

It wasn't anything she would have wished to happen to anyone, especially herself, but Chung said she took the opportunity to re-examine her life, which she said up until then had been driven mostly by the pressure of the concert circuit.

"My personal life was something I could spend more time on, and so I'm forever grateful that I went through that period," the mother of two sons said.   Continued...