South Korean pianist and composer Yiruma is celebrating 20 years since his debut album with a new recording, The Rewritten Memories, to be released on 26 March via Universal Music. The new album features brand-new orchestral arrangements of some of Yiruma’s best-loved works from the past two decades, including the globally popular ‘River Flows In You’ – dubbed “the ‘Clair de lune’ of the 21st century” (Classic FM) – and ‘Kiss The Rain’.
The Rewritten Memories is Yiruma’s first orchestral studio album and features the composer himself on piano. “It was a challenging yet interesting experience,” says Yiruma, describing the recording of the album with the Korean Symphony Orchestra during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The entire orchestra members couldn’t gather simultaneously and had to record part by part.”
Reworking his collection meant Yiruma could finally realise many of the sounds he had imagined when he first composed the solo piano works. “I had often thought when playing ‘River Flows In You’ that a flute melody would work well over the top – it was wonderful to explore this.”
The Rewritten Memories spans music from throughout Yiruma’s 20-year career. From 2001’s ‘First Love’ to his recent composition ‘Room With A View’ – a piece dedicated to the joy of staying indoors, which has provided an especially relevant sentiment for 2020.
Receiving his music education at the Purcell School of Music and King’s College, London, Yiruma is best known for his simple, melodic and emotional style of writing. A popular and well-known personality in Korea, Yiruma’s many musical and related activities include hosting radio shows and DJ-ing, collaborating with musicians from many different genres, and writing hit songs for some of K-Pop’s most successful bands.
But it is for his solo piano works that Yiruma enjoys most global acclaim; his most popular pieces are performed by millions of amateur pianists the world over, and his own recordings have delivered over two billion streams. Despite his success, Yiruma remains modest. He concludes, “I don’t know how 20 years has passed since my debut album! I never imagined that people all over the world would listen to my music. It’s surreal. It’s not something I planned – and I’m very grateful.”
Born in 1978, Yiruma started playing piano at the age of five, and moved to London when he was 10 to study at the Purcell School of Music, followed by King’s College, London. He released his first album Love Scene on Universal Music in 2001, aged 23. That same year, he released the follow-up First Love which included the No.1 hit ‘River Flows in You’, described as “the ‘Clair de lune’ of the 21st century” (Classic FM).
In 2002, Yiruma’s arrangement of ‘When Love Falls’ was also included on the soundtrack to Winter Sonata – the drama which started the sensation now known as the Korean wave. In the years that followed, Yiruma’s repertoire grew and his career flourished, from sell-out live performances and international tours, to hosting his own radio shows.
He has written more than 200 pieces to date, earning over two billion streams. His music is often featured in classical charts – in March 2020, Yiruma scored a No.1 album in the US Billboard Classical chart. Yiruma remains an inspiration for young pianists across the globe thanks to his uplifting, emotional and beautiful melodies. His compositions are also available as sheet music, encouraging fans to nurture their own musicality.