The Strad issues swift apology for offensive article

The Strad issues swift apology for offensive article


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2019

String players were swift to protest when the Strad published a slew of cliches about South Korean kids.

The magazine has taken down the article and issued this retraction:


On Monday, The Strad posted an extract from a new article on string teaching in South Korea on our website. Written by Viktoria Elisabeth Kaunzner, a violinist who has spent many years teaching in South Korea, the article explored the reasons for the recent successes of Korean violinists in string competitions worldwide. For the most part we believe the article is a sensitive and informative piece about music education and life there. However, we wish to apologise for the offence cased by a two-sentence snippet posted on social media, which we accept was misjudged. We also wish to stress that none of the competition-winning artists pictured throughout the article has any personal connection with Kaunzner or her research. We appreciate all comments and messages received in connection with the article and will aim to uphold the high standards expected of us in the future.



  • Shin says:

    That’s not an apology. The statement implies that the ‘two-sentence snippet’ is all of the problem. Those who read the article may know it’s not true. As Mr Lebrecht wrote, it is ‘full of sweeping generalisations.’

    • Jehi Bahk says:

      Did you read the whole four pages long article?

    • Jehi Bahk says:

      Which parts if it you think are “sweeping generalisations”?

    • aj says:

      To which section have you taken offense ?
      The article is supposedly based on fact .
      Which facts are incorrect .? Generalizations often
      contain truths which do not please .Opinions
      have on this site been far and wide ,all to the good,
      but now are we to expect censorship .The Strad for
      all it is worth has done great harm to itself by
      taking down the article .

  • Giaan says:

    Strad is dead magazine now anyway. So irrelevant.

  • The View from America says:

    Reading the article, it’s interesting how so much “opinion” is presented as “settled law” — when in fact it is merely a “point of view.” This happens far too often in journalism today. It was right for The Strad to take the article down.

  • Jehi Bahk says:

    I already commented on the other blog entry but will repeat it here again, because I believe in times as we live in now it has become too easy to blame somebody for being this or that and it’s important to set things right:

    The “rush of reader objections that it contained racist stereotypes” I think is based on reading only the excerpt of the article which you could read free of charge on the Strad website. I think if one would have read the full article you wouldn’t come to that conclusion. In my opinion the article offers interesting insights and also some inconvenient truths but is not at all racist.

    I also would like to point out that the statements written on this article are made by a selection of some of the leading Korean violin pedagogues Ms.Kaunzner interviewed for this article. So if you want to blame somebody then you should blame them (including me). I know Ms.Kaunzner for a few years now as she became my successor as professor at the German School of Music at the Kangnam University and know that she is a dedicated teacher, knows the korean culture very well, also learned the korean language and absolutely loves Korea and their people. That’s why she still regularely comes to Korea to teach and spend some time here.

    I think that the Strad magazine with apologizing and putting down the article from their website reacted (anxiously) in the wrong way and I hope people still will get a chance to rethink and revise their judgments based on reading the whole article.

  • Jehi Bahk says:

    As most of the online viewers here didn’t read and probably will not pay to read the full article, here the epilogue of the article which very well reflects the author’s deep admiration for Korea and its people:

    “Of course, at the heart of Korean life is the essential sadness of a people divided –into a communist north and a capitalist south. Coming as I do from formerly divided Germany, I well understand the psyche of a country split in two. In Korea the birds ‘cry’ rather than ‘sing’ – and art’s origin is always derived from suffering. I have listened to Korean music such as p’ansori (traditional song for solo voice and drum, a kind of one-person opera) and been so touched that I nearly cried. This melancholy exists throughout a country that is on the surface modern and outward looking – the Samsung and K-pop nation – and to my mind continues to influence art and performance in all areas.

    This capacity for deep emotion is combined with a colourful understanding of Western classical music, which Koreans often see through metaphor and fantasy. Once I asked a student what Hindemith might have envisioned during a forte passage in his Violin Sonata in C major. The answer was, ‘an elephant fighting against a dragon’. I wished Hindemith could have been there to hear his musical language described ‘Korean style’ – filled with oriental mythology, where dragons symbolically represent power.

    There is so much richness and depth in Korean cultural life and it stands to reason that this is helping to inform the country’s tradition of string playing. These are a people of imaginative and emotional sophistication, who speak a language as logically structured as Latin which prioritises beauty of phrasing, and who value a collaborative approach to learning. When examining the current explosion in young talent there is perhaps a case to be made for old and new ways coming together in just the right way at the right time.

    Young Korean students continue to respect their teachers and parents and to work hard at all aspects of musical learning; they value success and strive for perfection; but in recent years those same young people have developed a new sense of creativity and selfdetermination. As such, they are making a significant impact on the classical world stage – and are here to stay.”

    • aj says:

      Music is about sound not dragons or elephants. To ask what Hindemith “envisioned ” during a forte passage shows a lack of understanding to the art .
      Chopin mazurkas are not about dragons or” Korean style”

  • Jehi Bahk says:

    Four days ago The Strad magazine posted a statement on their facebook page, which makes clear that “…the phrase referring to ‘tiger moms and good husbands’ was drawn from several opinions of the Korean professors interviewed throughout the piece.” So stop shooting the messenger.