• Shanley McConnell

Literature Review of Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung by Min Kym.

Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung, Min Kym.


Min Kym

(Viking, 2017); pbk, £9.99


It seemed to sum up why one plays: the music you bring, the emotions you feel, encourage in others, that expression of unity, of ultimate peace, that seems to be music's greatest gift.

Min Kym's Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung resonates with transfixing sincerity. It is a symphony in and of itself. The first movement reads like an Allegro; with accelerando momentum, Min Kym discovers "her element," "a world of sound." Semplice, plain and simple, Min Kym was not only a child prodigy, but a young girl in awe of music, aware of its power and its purpose.


Combining commitment and continuous practice with natural talent, Min Kym was accepted at the famed Purcell School of Music at the age of seven. Propelling her career, she was awarded her first International Prize only four years later. Studying Brahms and Beethoven, Massenet and Mendelssohn,  Kreisler and Chausson under a number of renowned musicians with both restricting and releasing styles, Kym explores voice. At the age of twenty-one, she'd found it in the melody of 1696 Stradivarius.


The second movement of the memoir reads like an Adagio, steadily and beautifully so. It is about the sublime, shapely relationship between Min Kym and her Stradivarius.


I could swim in this world. I could dive and soar. I could ride crests and float down streams, swim with or against any current. I felt like a creature released, alive in herself for the first time.

Vigorously, the third movement falls into a mess of speed. Characteristically, this middle section is often known as one full of embellishments. Fast, forceful, and lively. Min Kym's Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung is complicated, painful yet mesmerizing. After recording Brahms' Concerto and organizing a World Tour, her 1696 Stradivarius was stolen. Vulnerable and yet, simultaneously searching for strength in the midst of panic, Min Kym recounts "limboland." Gone is about boldness and a new-kind of bravery. The kind that acknowledges the broken bond between who she was with her violin, and who she is as a violinist.


The last movement focuses on the rise and reinforcing of young Min Kym, still in awe of, and comforted by, music. Her music. It is a finale build upon hope and new intimacies. Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung is truly a spellbinding tale of loneliness, loss, love, and legacy.



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