Mon, Jul 09, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Tseng takes yet another Guarneri violin to Europe
奇美借名琴 曾宇謙揚威歐洲

Tseng Yu-chien plays the “ex-Castelbarco-Tarsio” violin at the Chi Mei Museum in Greater Tainan on July 2.

Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Liberty Times

Violinist Tseng Yu-chien is not only the youngest person to ever receive the Chi Mei Arts Award, he has actually won the award twice. At the age of 17, he has already won a number of international violin competitions with his profound musicality. Most recently he won fifth place in Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth Music Competition. He will be going back to Belgium to attend the Concert Prelude to National Day 2012. On July 2, the Chi Mei Museum lent the “ex-Castelbarco-Tarsio” Guarneri violin, which is worth more than NT$100 million (US$3.334 million), to him to play at the concert so he can continue using his superior musicianship to make Taiwan proud.

Tseng did not start learning the violin until the age of five. Prior to learning the violin, while he was in a preschool music class, they found that he could not distinguish pitches, even after several attempts. His musical aptitude was therefore thought to be much lower than that of his peers. His teachers were worried he might have a hearing impairment, so his parents took him to the hospital to run some tests.

The tests showed that he did not have any hearing problems, so his father enrolled him in a percussion class to improve his musical sensibilities. He started learning violin only after a friend of his father’s recommended the instrument, which was when his natural musical talent was finally unleashed and started to take off. At the age of seven, Tseng won first place in a Taipei music competition, and after just two years he became a national champion. Since then he has won numerous international competitions and has been called a child prodigy.

Tseng’s journey with the violin has been full of unanticipated glory and success. His natural musical talent has been nurtured under the guidance of his parents and teachers. After beating all of the competition in Taiwan, he won third prize in the junior division of the Yehudi Menuhin Competition in France at the age of 11, and also became the youngest person to ever receive the Chi Mei Arts Award that same year.


1. preschool n.

幼兒園 (you4 er2 yuan2)

例: Preschool children in North Korea are taught to hate Americans.


2. child prodigy n. phr.

神童 (shen2 tong2)

例: Pablo Picasso was a child prodigy.


3. on the spot adj.

當場的 (dang1 chang3 de5)

例: The president of the company gave a speech on the spot.


He was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 13. During his time there as a student, Tseng has won the junior division of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Albert M. Greenfield Concerto Competition in 2009, first prize in the Pablo Sarasate Competition that same year, the Prize in memory of Dr. Enrico Costa and the Friends of Paganini Association Prize at the Paganini Competition in 2010, a Jury Discretionary Award at the International Tchaikovsky Competition last year, which was also when he received his second Chi Mei Arts Award.

The violin that the 17-year-old Tseng had initially hoped to borrow from the Chi Mei collection for the competition in Belgium — Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu’s 280-year-old “ex-Castelbarco-Tarsio” violin, — was already on loan to renowned violinist Hu Nai-yuan, so he borrowed the “ex-Lafont-Sikovsky” violin instead, which was also made by Guarneri.

Tseng took a trip down south to Greater Tainan on July 2 to return the “ex-Lafont-Sikovsky” Guarneri violin to the museum, thank them for letting him borrow it, and once again ask if he could borrow the “ex-Castelbarco-Tarsio,” which he played on the spot after finally realizing his long-desired wish to borrow the instrument. Tseng will be taking the violin to Belgium to perform as a soloist with the Belgium National Orchestra on July 20 at the Concert Prelude to National Day 2012, once again displaying the brilliant musicianship of a gifted Taiwanese musician.

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