Well-known Chinese-American pianist, Tung Kwong-Kwong, (Mrs. Kwong Kwong Ma) died Monday, August 5, 2013 in a suburb of Philadelphia. Born in Shanghai, China, Tung Kwong Kwong was first taught piano by her mother, Zoen Yien Wong, one of the first Chinese women to study music abroad, and one of the first Chinese graduates of Boston's New England Conservatory. Tung Kwong Kwong subsequently studied with Maestro Paci, conductor of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, before coming to the United States in 1946, to continue her musical studies. Cited by Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops as his favorite soloist, she was a frequent performer with the Boston Pops. Tung Kwong Kwong was also one of the last students of the famous pianist, Artur Schnabel, with whom she studied until his death in 1951. She also studied with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, both in New York, and in Tremezzo on Lago Como, in Italy. In the 1950s, she worked with Leonard Shure, in Cleveland. In the late 1950s, Tung Kwong Kwong was invited to Germany by her brother Maestro Ling Tung, conductor of the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, and in numerous appearances with the orchestra, Tung Kwong Kwong performed all five piano concerti of Beethoven and the two by Brahms.
Later, Tung Kwong Kwong joined her husband, the late violinist, Ma Si-Hon, to whom she was married for over fifty years, and they recorded and toured together throughout Western Europe, North America, and the Far East, appearing at the Salzburg and Dartington Festivals, among many others. Tung Kwong Kwong and Ma Si-Hon were also resident artists at the Marlboro Music Festival in the early 1960s, and continued to tour together in the 1960s and 1970s in America, under Columbia Artists Management. In the 1980s, the duo made several tours of the Far East, performing and teaching both in Taiwan and Mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Bangkok.
In the early 1970s, Tung Kwong Kwong and Ma Si-Hon founded the Si-Yo Music Society, which presented annual series of chamber music concerts in New York City between 1971 and 2004 in support of the Chinese community. At its inception, performances were held at the Chinese School in Chinatown, later becoming established at Pace University's Schimmel Auditorium, and subsequently, Merkin Hall near Lincoln Center. Among the artists who appeared regularly with them in these concerts were many alumni from Marlboro, as well as other notable artists, including Stanley Drucker, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera soprano, Benita Valente, and Jerry Grossman, principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In addition to her many duo and ensemble performances, Tung Kwong-Kwong appeared regularly in New York, performing at Town Hall, Merkin Hall, and later in a solo recital in Carnegie Hall.
Through her long career, starting as a teenager in Shanghai, Tung Kwong Kwong remained a remarkable and influential teacher and coach teaching piano to many gifted young players. She taught privately and was an adjunct professor of piano at Kent State University School of Music in Ohio and also taught at Pace University in New York City.
Tung Kwong Kwong is beloved by her late husband Si-Hon Ma, her late sister Ming Ming Shen and late husband Shan-Fu Shen, and sister Niby Tung and husband Abraham; her late brother Yuan Tung and wife Helen Shklar Tung and her late brother Ling Tung; her brother Liby Tung and wife Xiao Min Gu; her niece Hsueh-Lang Shen and Don Whitefield: her nephews Hsueh-Yung Shen, David Tung, and Theodore Wong and wife JoAnn. On her husband's side of the family, Tung Kwong Kwong is beloved by her sister-in-laws, Siju Ma and Siyun Ma; her nieces Zhen-Mei Wang, husband Kwang Yu, and daughter Titi Yu, Zhen-Ping Wang, husband Yan Xiao, and daughter Ting Xiao, Chang-Zi Ma, husband Guoquan Gu, and daughter, Nancy Zi Li, husband Paul Li, and daughter and son; nephews John Hsu and wife Martha, Tom Hsu, wife Laura, and two daughters, Yuliang Ma and wife Jing Yang, Yuming Ma wife, and daughter, Yong-Zi Ma, wife Qingyuan Huang, and daughter Grace, Simon Ho, wife Wanyao and son, Shue Ho, wife Yanling, and sons, Roger and Ryan, and Wing Ho, wife Yiliang Chen, and daughters, Jessica and Julie.
(Wetzel and Son Funeral Home, 215-659-0911, RC 8-17, 18-2013)