Remembering Professor Ik-Hwan Bae

Bae_Ik-Hwan-2Ik-Hwan Bae, 57
Nov. 19, 1956 – July 24, 2014 

The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music mourns the loss of Ik-Hwan Bae, 57, who died today, July 24, in Bloomington, Ind. He came to IU in August 1999 and was Professor of Music (Violin and Chamber Music) in the String Department. 

You are invited to leave your thoughts and remembrances about this extraordinary violin pedagogue. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to submit your comments.

“The passing of Ik-Hwan Bae marks a huge loss not only for the Jacobs School faculty and community but for the music world at large,” said Stephen Wyrczynski, chair of the Jacobs String Department. “He was an elegant and poetic violinist who made an indelible impact on all who heard him. He was a dear colleague and friend. Our condolences go to his beloved wife, Sung-Mi Im, and his son, Subin.”

Bae was born in Seoul, Korea, and made his professional debut with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of 12. He studied with Ivan Galamian at The Juilliard School. His performances in recitals and concerto concerts took him to most of the major cities in Europe, Asia and the United States. 

In 1985, he received the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and also was a prizewinner at the Munich International Competition in 1984. In 1986, he was the recipient of a Solo Recitalist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

As an enthusiastic participant in many of the world’s best chamber music festivals, Bae was seen everywhere from Seoul to Alaska. He was an artistic director of Bargemusic Ltd., one of the leading presenters of chamber music in New York City, for 13 years, until 1995. 

His most recent project was as concertmaster of the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra in Korea, which is a conductor-less string orchestra. He led them to Krakow, Poland, and Puerto Rico at the Casals Festival. 

Much sought after as a pedagogue, he also taught at the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University, the Manhattan School of Music and the Korean National Institute for the Arts. He gave master classes worldwide annually. 

Bae was a jury member of the Munich ARD competition in Germany, Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark, Benjamin Britten International Violin Competition in London and Jean Sibelius International Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland. 

He recorded for the RCA, ECM, Delo and Hoch labels. 

He is survived by his wife, Sung-Mi Im, and son, Subin. Information on a memorial concert this fall will be announced at a later date.

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43 Responses to Remembering Professor Ik-Hwan Bae

  1. Cathy Kammer says:

    It was always a pleasure to hear Professor Bae host the Fall and Spring Chamber Music Series in the Lobby of the MAC. He shared interesting highlights about the composers and pieces with much humor, a sweet smile, and a twinkle in his eye. My sympathy to his nice family.

  2. Paul Coletti says:

    Dear Sung-Mi and Subin,

    Ik Hwan helped so many people in so many ways, and was always a great example of truth and goodness. An honorable and kind man, genuine.
    It was our honor to know him, and to play with him.
    Much love to you both.

    Paul Coletti

  3. Jim Steffen says:

    On behalf of all of us at the Sitka Summer Music Festival I wish to express our sadness over the loss of a dear friend, an incredible musician and teacher, and a most wonderful human being. Ik Hwan has touched our lives and will not be forgotten. We send our love and support to Sung-Mi and Subin in this difficult time.

  4. Libby, William and Sasah Stortz says:

    Dear Sung Mi and Subin,
    Oh what sad news. Ik-Hwan was such a sweet man and wonderful musician.
    We miss having you here in Sitka. He was full of love for you both and filled the world and our lives with the beauty of his music. Our sympathy and hearts are with you.

    Libby, William and Sasha

  5. Susie Buzan says:

    Although Ik-Hwan Bae has physically left this Earth, he has left his everlasting joy for his family and friends; his deep, abiding love of music; and his generous appreciation for everything and everyone around him. When I worked for two years on the other side of his studio wall, I was fortunate enough to hear the fruits of his teaching every day. Then in the fall of 2013 my office was blessed to be moved into his studio of 13 years, while he was moved into the brand new East Studio Building. It is in this room that I feel his presence every single day. He left something here–karma, chi, grace, zen–whatever one wants to call it. But hardly a person has come into my new office that has not stopped, looked around, and in wonderment commented on what a wonderful feeling there is in here. He visited one day this year, with a huge smile on his face. He said he wanted to see what I had done with the place. He approved. And he looked out the window at the tall pines, and quietly said, “I loved that window.” Thank you, Ik-Hwan. For what you left for us in this room and this life. And for that, I am grateful.

  6. Michael Schwartzkopf says:

    There is no doubt that Ik Hwan was an exceptional musician. I always enjoyed his playing. However, I will also remember him as an outstanding person, well rounded in topics outside of music. We had delightful conversations. For that he will be sorely missed.

  7. Susan Wingrove-Reed says:

    A light has dimmed with the passing of such a wonderful artist and man. I am deeply saddened to hear that Ik Hwan has passed on and my heart reaches out to Sung-Mi and Subin and everyone in his very large community of friends, students and colleagues. I will never forget his beautiful playing, his integrity, his delight with the world and people, his passion for his family, his enthusiasm for living life fully. He was a remarkable man and we are all lucky indeed for having known him. Alaska is grieving for our longtime musical friend today and for the days to come. May he rest in peace and if there is a heaven, may Ik Hwan be embraced by all the love that is coming his way forever.

  8. MinJung Kang says:

    Dear Mr. Bae,

    I still cannot believe that you exist now only in our memories and I am terribly sorry that I cannot do anything else than just thinking about you.

    A true musician and such a great human being, a person so full of life who was always ready to share so much.

    Thank you for everything.
    I will surely miss you very much.

    MinJung Kang

  9. Ik Hwan was a wonderful artist, violinist, chamber musician and pedagogue. I often played at the Barge when he was Artistic Director and had many memorable musical alliances with him. He loved chamber music in particular-I’ll never forget his performance of Bartok sonata with David Oei at the Seattle Festival in the mid 80’s, nor a wee hours of the night Haydn quartet readings at his tiny apartment on the upper west side where he suddenly stopped playing after falling asleep in his chair at 3am. He was a cherished and treasured friend and colleague. RIP, jo. We all miss you.

  10. Jungsun Paeck says:

    I’ve been filled with deep sadness since I heard of the passing of Prof. Bae.
    I studies with him the violin and chamber music and finished my degrees under his guidance. He was an enthusiastic artist and a thoughtful teacher as well. He always inspired me confidance and showed a generous personality.

    Prof. Bae. I am grateful for being your student. You will be greatfuly missed and your warmth and passion will be remembered.
    My prayers are wih you and your family.

  11. Lawrence Hurst says:

    I had the privilege of knowing and working closely with Ik-Hwan during his entire tenure at IU. As chair of the string department, I witnessed his artistic idealism everyday, and, most importantly, his dedication to his students and the art of music. He was an artist in every sense of the word, and could communicate and demonstrate that artistry to his students. As a performing colleague, he was an amazing player…robust sound, nuanced coloring and great technique. As a pedagogue he developed and nurtured many fine violinists during his time at the Jacobs School of Music.
    We grieve and mourn his untimely death, and our condolences go out to Sung Mi and Subin. His was a beautiful life well lived.

  12. Yang Choi says:

    I mind deeply in his mind.
    His sunny smile and warm performance
    will be forever.
    I will miss him.

  13. Peter Kaman says:

    I knew Ik-Hwan way back when he was concertmaster of the National Symphony in NYC (a training orchestra for conductors taught by Leon Barzin). As a new member of the orchestra, sitting way back in the 2nds, I heard Ik-Hwan play the most beautiful Beethoven Concerto. It was probably almost 40 years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. I’ll never forget his gorgeous unforced tone, and fluid and elegant bow strokes and sublime architecture. He was a genuinely sweet person, and I’ll truly miss him. My deepest heartfelt condolences to his family.

  14. Kathleen Madden says:

    I am in shock and sadness. ….a wonderful family man, musician and such a delightful and inspiring and positive personality. Sung Mi and Subin…my heart cries out to you.

  15. Don Freund says:

    Ik-Hwan Bae touched so many lives in so many ways; my personal reflections resonate with two distinctively complementary sides of his spirit. One one hand, there is the brilliant artist who lit up the stage with his performance of my double concerto with Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Carl St. Clair and our Philharmonic Orchestra and, even more indicative of his character and commitment, how in the last months of his life he brought joyous life to a new chamber work of mine and dazzling energy, vitality and depth to P.Q. Phan’s Double Concertante along with our New Music Ensemble and his equally brilliant and inspiring life-partner, Sung-Mi Im. HIs tremendous integrity and ferocious determination to communicate the ideas and spirit of every piece he performed have left an indelible and continually inspiring impression. On the other hand, my thoughts of Ik-Hwan gravitate towards those wonderful relaxed moments of casual conversation graced by his beguiling good humor, quick-witted perception, and fascination and love for so much of what life has to offer. As a composer, collaborator and friend, I feel his loss deeply, but I will keep these treasured memories that will continue to illuminate and motivate all who experienced this unforgettable musician.

  16. Minah Choe says:

    Mr. Bae, it was great previledge to have studied with you. How lucky was I to have known you and performed with you. Your wonderful music, inspirational teaching and kind spirits will be sorely missed. My sincerest prayers to his family.

  17. Juliette Kang says:

    I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Ik Hwan was a kind and generous person as well as a wonderful violinist. A true gentleman. My sincere condolences to his family.

  18. julia bae says:

    I miss his playing, miss his teaching, miss his laugh and miss him. It was honor for me to study with him. I will remember his passion and love for music.
    Thank you, Mr.Bae. Thank you for sharing your blessed talent with us. Your music will shine with us forever. Sending you love and light on your way.

  19. Mary Ann Hart says:

    Ik-Hwan and I both came to IU in 1999, but before that in the early to mid-80’s we both participated in many Bach Cantata Sundays concerts with Fred Sherry at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn. The infectuous energy and joie de vivre of his playing in those performances is a treasured memory even 30 years later. Everyone who ever made music with him will have a similar story, I’m sure. My sincere condolences to his family and his students.

  20. P.Q. Phan says:

    Ik-Hwan Bae was a great colleague and great friend. His playing was virtuoso, expressive and full of positive energy. Besides all of that, I will miss and will always remember his generosity, friendliness, and optimism. He was a beautiful person and friend that is truly irreplaceable.

  21. Jason Chen says:

    I will miss Mr. Bae. I loved him because he was such a man – honest, direct, and hospitable. He was constantly cutting through all my excuses, pulling my head out of the clouds down into real life. And he did it in a gruff way that only those who really care do. And I knew he cared because of the dinners at his house, the countless lunches from Dragon Express, and the embarrassing ridicule and teasing which he generously showered on me.

    God was kind to give us Mr. Bae, and I thank Him for using him to teach me so much more than just music. He made me deal with myself honestly, to be humble, to give up perfectionism, and to have the courage to do it. Sung Mi and Subin, I’m mourning with you.


  22. Carmit Zori says:

    Very upsetting news! I knew IkHwan for a long time and I like to say that he was a very special guy with a great heart, and a warm beautiful , honest musician. I always enjoyed his presence and learned a lot from his strength as a human being. I am so sad by the news, and send much sympathy to his family.

  23. Matthias Buchholz says:

    It is hard to grasp that Ik-Hwan is no longer amongst us. Hearing this made me very sad and disturbed me gravely. Having spent so much time with Ik-Hwan already in the 80′ in NYC, then later in chamber music and mostly with Hwaum Chamber Orchestra in Seoul and everywhere we went, this creates a big void. Our hikes in Seoul and in the Bukhansan National Park in our leisure time remain unforgettable: Ik-Hwan, heavily loaded with all his Leica-equipment, almost running ahead on the lookout for the next great scene. Then, many Sinfonia concertantes with Hwaum and many many hours of intensive rehearsing. RIP, we all miss you.

  24. David Dzubay says:

    Just this past February, Ik-Hwan and his wife Sung-Mi Im premiered a terrific and fiendishly difficult double concerto by PQ Phan with the IU New Music Ensemble. For the rest of my life, I will remember with amazement the grace, energy, humor, warmth, and not least musicality and virtuoso technique that Ik-Hwan brought to the rehearsals, performance and recording session. He was truly an inspiration to us all and I will cherish this memory along with others of him making beautiful music.

  25. Allen and Helga Winold says:

    We mourn the death of Ik Hwan but at the same time we celebrate all the wonderful things he stood for — artistry in performance, understanding, inspiration, and encouragement in teaching, and joy and service in living. Our hearts go out not only to his family but to all of his wonderful students, colleagues, and friends.

  26. It is impossible to grasp that Ik-Hwan Bae is no longer with us. He was an exceptional person, great violinist, consummate musician, inspiring teacher, and wonderful colleague. We will always cherish our memories of Ik-Hwan and will miss him terribly. Sending our deepest sympathy to his family and his students.

  27. Stephen Schock says:

    Ik-Hwan was one of the nicest people I have ever known. I used to come to his house before I had a shop to pick up the work he needed done on his violin and bows. That was almost fifteen years ago. I always had to look out for the BIG dogs! And, I needed to be sure I had enough change because he always payed with $100 bills. He would come to the shop and try violins and bows for me and we often talked about our common interest in photography. I kidded him once in the early days by asking what his real violin was. He said “This is it (Charles Coggins), I’m a family man. It was either a violin or a house!” I believe the very last words I spoke to him a couple of months ago were “An nyeong hi ga se yo”.

  28. Dong-Oo Lee says:

    How sad it is to hear of the passing of Prof. Ik-Whan Bae. He gave so much to the music world with his musical artistry and as an educator. Korea’s music world has lost a great “son” who gave so much, shared with great passion and yet asked for nothing in return…. I truly believe this is how he lived his life and we should be so fortunate to have had him share it with us.

  29. Grigory Kalinovsky says:

    I regret to say I only knew Ik-Hwan briefly after I joined JSoM faculty last Fall, but I had come to know him as a wonderful colleague, a true musician, a devoted teacher, and a wonderful human being. It’s a great loss for all of us. My deepest condolences to his family and his students.

  30. Se-Doo Park says:

    Prof. Bae was one of the dearest people I have been fortunate enough to get to know in my life. I always missed his guidance after my time at IU with him. I will miss him all the more now. My sincerest prayers are with him and his family at this time.

  31. Chin Kim says:

    He was my childhood friend, growing up together, and often playing for each other. I will miss his phone calls at midnight while he lived in NYc, asking that we should go out for a huge Korean meal which usually ended around 2 A.M. (my previous post simply disappeared)

  32. Sanyi says:

    I was very blessed to have been in the audience at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival to hear Ik-Hwan Bae play.

    It is so great to remember his playing in live concerts. Sad that this will be no more.

    His personality flowed into his playing.

    I salute the passing of one of the greats!

  33. Chin Kim says:

    He was great friend from my childhood. We grew up together, and spent many years in NY as 2 A.M. dinner friend. I will miss his calls at midnight asking to go out to have a huge meal among many other million things…

  34. Hamyung Chung says:

    How sad. I worked on corporate sponsorship side with Hwaum Chamber in Korea for 3 years. We went to Tokyo for a concert as well. I fondly remember his cheerful smiles and the way he would brighten a room. I pray for his family. Professor Bae Ik Hwan nim, Rest in peace.

  35. Nathaniel Rosen says:

    To imagine our world without Ik-Hwan is impossible. He was my partner in so much chamber music in so many places all over the world, from Sitka to Amsterdam, east or west-bound. I am sorry and sad.

  36. Jacob Wunsch says:

    Thank you Prof Bae for the insights during our semester of chamber music together. You will be greatly missed.


  37. I heard this sad news with shock, dismay, and deep sadness. As a long-time friend and colleague, I admired Ik Hwan’s artistry, his enthusiasm for music and for life, his unflagging energy, his generosity, his wisdom and his humanity. The world of music – and the world beyond music – has lost a valued citizen.

  38. Eun-kyung Song says:

    I respectfully express my condolence.
    He was my doctoral committee member and chamber music professor from 2000 to 2007. He inspired his students not only in music but also in personality. I will always remember his teaching, music and warm heart.
    Thank you Prof. Bae

  39. Anna Chi-En Tsai Chang says:

    My heart is heavy this morning when I woke up in Taiwan and learned about this news. Professor Bae was a loving and kind person. His music was full of inspiration and positive energy, and I could never get enough of his brilliant chamber coaching. I remembered vividly being a poor music student and wasn’t able to buy a new violin case, and my old one wasn’t doing so great and was clearly falling apart without any working zippers. Prof. Bae saw it and offered me his case that was in storage. Being just his chamber student, I was touched and so very thankful!

    And that’s Prof. Bae to me–someone who had an amazing heart for the people around him, who was not stingy in giving himself to others, and someone whose legacy will live forever within those of us who have had the privilege in knowing him.

    I miss you, Prof. Bae.

  40. Lisa Brown says:

    So very sorry to hear of the passing of Professor Bae, a very kind and talented man. My thoughts and prayers are with Sung-Mi and Subin at this most difficult time.

  41. Kelley Latshaw says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I worked in the office next door to Prof. Bae for many years, and he was always so friendly and enthusiastic. I had the pleasure of hearing the results of his teaching through the wall every day. I will remember him fondly when I hear the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, which seemed to be a favorite. My deepest condolences to his family.

  42. Ruey-Shyuan Pham says:

    Thank you Prof. Bae for being a mentor to me in both life and music. I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to cross paths and the lessons you’ve taught me will stay with me for the rest of my life.


  43. Nathan Giem says:

    What an amazing musician and man! It was my great fortune to study chamber music with Professor Bae. There are so many memories from my undergraduate and graduate days. Professor Bae came to Indiana University a year after I did, and taught violin and chamber music for all the years I studied there. It is hard to imagine the School of Music without him. His legacy lives on with his many students, who he cared for deeply. Wishing sympathy to his family.

    Nathan Giem