Joel Ahn was born in 1957 in a remote mountain village in Korea, as a son of Baptist minister. Decades ago, Korea was one of the most underdeveloped and poor countries in the world in the aftermath of war. So, he spent his childhood and adolescence in a primitive environment. He began studying music late at the age of 15, and he was self-educated until he went to college in Seoul.
Dankuk University; Seoul, Korea (B.A.)
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Louisville, KY (Master of Church Music)
University of North Texas; Denton, TX (DMA in Piano Performance)
Musikhochschule; Vienna, Austria (Diploma in composition).
During his college years, he composed in avant-garde style for some years – not because he was attracted to it but because that was the prevalent mode of composition(as it is nowadays). But while studying in Vienna in his early 30’s, he seriously questioned the essence and value of modern music. Thus, he denounced progressive modernism and has since become an ardent devotée of the traditional style of music from the 18th and 19th century. As to such reversal of compositional mode, he was crucially influenced by Kurt Schwertzik, his major professor in Hochschule. So, his music strives for absolute beauty incarnated in Bach, Haydn and Mozart.
So far, he wrote over 700 works – mostly sacred.
He was awarded with the first prize at the first YourLDS composition competition with a choralwork <Psalm 23rd> in Oct. 2013.