Lee Ru-ma (Korean: 이루마; born February 15, 1978), better known by his stage name Yiruma (Korean: 이루마), is a South Korean pianist and composer. Yiruma frequently performs at sold-out concerts in Asia, Europe and North America. His alma mater, King's College London, helped him gain European popularity and recognition. Among his most popular pieces are River Flows in You, Love Hurts, Kiss the Rain, and May Be. Yiruma's most popular album, First Love, was released in 2001.
He began playing the piano at the age of five and moved to London when he was 10, in 1988, to study at the Purcell School of Music. He held dual citizenship, South Korean and British, until 2006, when he gave up his UK citizenship to serve in the South Korean Navy.
Lee Ru-ma was born and raised in South Korea and educated in England. Yiruma began playing the piano at the age of five and subsequently moved to London at the age of 10 (1988), for the purpose of studying at the Purcell School of Music. In December 1996 he participated in the album The Musicians of Purcell (Decca). Graduating from Purcell School of Music in July 1997, Yiruma continued his musical aspirations and completed a Composition major from King's College London in June 2000. While studying at King's College, the pianist released his first album, Love Scene, through DECCA records. His love for the romantic music of Paris led him to inspire composers to Stomp Music in 2000.
Additionally, during his time in college, he participated in a musical tour in Europe. Making a historical impact for his country, Yiruma was the first Korean artist to receive an invitation to perform at the 2002 MIDEM in Cannes, France. Early in his career, his albums were released in Europe and Asia; they are now available internationally through various online sources such as iTunes, Amazon, and Yiruma's recording label STOMP Records.
In 2001 he released his most popular album to date, First Love. His No. 1 selling piece "River Flows in You" was on this album, and since 2001 this piece has been released on two other albums (First Love [Repackaged] and Wedding Essentials: The Ceremony). Yiruma released his third album, From The Yellow Room in 2003. Pre-order sales topped 30,000 copies, and the album was top-ranked on many popular music charts, including Yes24, Phono, and Hot Tracks. His 12-city Korean tour was a sellout, as well as his November concert at the Seoul National Arts Center.
His fourth album is POEMUSIC. In 2006, the following year, he composed a main theme piece for a popular KBS drama, Spring Waltz. In his fifth album, h.i.s monologue, he utilized prepared piano. Yiruma has composed soundtracks for musicals, films, and plays. Though successful in the music industry, Yiruma, as all South Korean males are required to, joined the South Korean military. In 2006, he gave up his British citizenship when he enlisted in the Korean Navy.
Upon completing his service in the Korean Navy, he began the 2008 Yiruma Come Back Tour, Ribbonized, in 20 cities across Korea. Additionally, on January 1, 2009, he became a DJ for KBS1FM Yiruma's Music from All Around the World.
In September 2010, Yiruma cancelled his contract with Stomp Music and signed with Sony Music Entertainment Korea. Stomp Music then filed an injunction to prohibit Yiruma from selling his music, and the request was accepted by the court in April 2011. Yiruma immediately filed an objection against the injunction, with the court ultimately favouring Yiruma.
In April 2016, Yiruma embarked on his Spring Rain Live tour in the US. He has played in Carnegie Hall in New York City,NY and in Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
Yiruma's musical style primarily focuses on new-age, and is said to be similar to the contemporary classical music in film scores or television dramas. Because his music is popular among many listeners who are not familiar with classical music, the solo piano instrumentation and tendency toward "movements" often leads to labels like "new classical", "pop classical" or "contemporary classical". However, although his composition studies would have included the classics, the structure of his pieces do not reflect such forms. His music has sometimes been classified vaguely as "popular", as shown by the inclusion of his hit piece River Flows in You on a compilation of wedding pieces titled "Wedding Essentials: The Ceremony". The iTunes Store considers him a World Music or New Age artist. The categorization of his style as New Age is especially prevalent among classical musicians and listeners. However, "River Flows in You" was played once on KDFC which is generally regarded as a "classical" music station.
Regarding the structure of his music, the movement and reach required to play his pieces averages around Grade 7 by Royal Conservatory standards. Pattern and repetition feature prominently, however, making the structure more like popular pieces or movie themes than traditional solo piano compositions.
Family and spouse
Yiruma married Son Hye-Im on May 27, 2007. Yiruma and Son Hye-Im's daughter, Loanna, was born on Oct 7, 2007. Son Hye-Im's younger sister is the Korean actress Son Tae-young, who attended Yiruma’s concert with her husband, Kwon Sang-woo.
On his spiritual viewpoint, Yiruma has stated, "I’m a Christian, and I am not a New-age artist. Most people misunderstand me." In his album H.I.S Monologue (2006), the artist composed a piece titled, "Lord...Hold my Hand".
- Love Scene (2001)
- First Love (2001)
- From the Yellow Room (2003)
- Nocturnal Lights... They Scatter (2004)
- Destiny of Love (2005)
- Poemusic (2005)
- H.I.S. Monologue (2006)
- P.N.O.N.I. (2008)
- Stay in Memory (2012)
- Healing Piano (2013)
- Blind Film (2013)
- Atmosfera - Yiruma Special Album (2014)
- Piano (2015)
- Yiruma: Live at HOAM Art Hall (2005)
Released on July 12, 2005, this album includes the recordings for many of his sold out concerts performed at HOAM Art Hall. This album contains Yiruma's performances during 2003-2004 tours, his sold out solo concerts, and charitable school concerts. Yiruma performed pieces from his albums: Love Scene, First Love, From the Yellow Room, Oasis & Yiruma, and Doggy Poo OST.
- Oasis and Yiruma (2002)
- Doggy Poo OST (2002)
Yiruma's soundtrack for the children's film Doggy Poo was released on December 17, 2002.
- Piano Museum (2002)
- Missing You (2009)
- Ribbonized (10th Anniversary 6-CD BoxSet) (2010)