Bartók World Competition


18 August 1997



"Until I finished this piece, I had been going through a serious slump. During that long slump, which lasted three years, I could not complete a single piece. It was a huge disaster, one that I encountered for the first time since I started composing in my mid-teens, and this disaster ruined my life. Looking back now, I think the biggest reason I had such a slump was because I did not have the technique required. It was not just a lack of compositional technique. If it had been just that, the slump would not have lasted that long. Anyway, there were things that had accumulated in me during the time when I could not complete one single piece. And in the present situation where an epidemic is spreading all over the world, I suddenly completed this piece in 15 days. This is the first piece I have completed in 3 years. This piece is pushing me towards the entry to the basement that has just opened. From now on, I plan to find out what is there in it."



Born in Seoul, South Korea, 1997, Noh Seung Ju is not a natural-born musician. He has never thought of himself as talented in music. However he has known that his will to create something was stronger than anyone else’s. The reason Noh SeungJu first started composing was that he was so desperate to create something.

At the age of 15, he suddenly felt a desire to compose. Until then, Noh SeungJu hadn't learned music in an institutionalized way. He hadn't even taken a piano lesson. He was a music lover (or rather music-maniac) for sure, but the kinds of music that he loved was mostly the music of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. For the 15 years old boy, those kinds of music were things that were behind a huge curtain of time and it was impossible to consider those as basic elements of his creation. So, Noh SeungJu decided to start from nothing. He recalled the piano improvisation that he had been enjoying alone since he was young. Then, he picked the series of notes that is most accurate based on that sense. The most accurate notes on the most accurate times. And that was all. He has been doing basically the same job since then, until now.

What Noh SeungJu values most highly are the things that interest him. If something is not interesting, it doesn't move one's mind. If the thing doesn't move one's mind, it's nothing. The problem is, things that he finds interesting are always a bit weird. At some point, he spends two nights digging into the life of a person who was one of the envoys sent to the Netherlands from the Korean Empire in the early 20th century. Also, at some point, he gets stuck with a novelist, and to find out everything about him, he even searches for college graduation photos that the novelist had never released to the public. Noh SeungJu knows that these drain him of a lot of energy. Sometimes he wonders how much better his life could be if he spent that energy on something more productive instead of wasting it like this. But no regrets at all. Since it's been fun all