Next up in my composers series is –


Lee Ru-ma was born in February 1978 is better known by his stage name Yiruma. He is a South Korean-British pianist and composer who frequently performs throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

He began playing the piano at the age of five and moved to London when he was 10, in 1988, to study at the Purcell School of Music. After graduating in 1997 he attended London University of King’s College where he studied under Harrison Birtwistle, a master of modern music, from whom he learned classical and modern music as well as composition.

In 2001 he released his first album, Love Scene, its friendly melodies and accomplished playing skills gained from his classical music training gained great interest from critics and the public.

The same year saw the release of his second album, Love Song, that included probably his most famous piece River Flows in You.

Yiruma’s musical style primarily focuses on new-age, and is said to be similar to the contemporary classical music in film scores or television dramas. Because his music is popular among many listeners who are not familiar with classical music, the solo piano instrumentation and tendency toward “movements” often leads to labels like “new classical”, “pop classical” or “contemporary classical”. However, although he formally studied composition, the structure of his pieces do not reflect classical forms. His music has sometimes been classified vaguely as “popular”.

Regarding the structure of his music, the movement and reach required to play his pieces averages around Grade 7 by ABRSM standards. Pattern and repetition feature prominently, however, making the structure more like popular pieces or movie themes than traditional solo piano compositions.

I return now to the piece River Flows in You and in contrast to my post about Mikhail Glinka where I his recorded Nocturne in E♭ major that you can listen to on my Soundcloud, this time I have recorded a video where you can clearly see the pattern and repetition I mentioned above.

It is a beautiful piece from a fantastic composer; I hope you enjoy it. Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

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