Born and raised in South Korea, Yoon Kuk Lee received his earliest musical training from his mother. At the age of 13, he immigrated with his family to America where he graduated high school in New York and enrolled at Williams College.
In 1976, he graduated with the honour title “Cum Laude” in philosophy and travelled to Austria, to study conducting and composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum University of Music with teachers such as Sandor Vegh, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Herbert von Karajan.
One of Lee’ s early successes as a composer came in the form of winning the highest prize at the 1982 Austria Radio (ORF) competition, which led to public concerts and radio broadcasts of his music. A couple of years thereafter Lee accepted a teaching position at the Mozarteum University of Music. Since 1987, he has been making guest conducting appearances with the St. Petersburg Camerata, the KBS Symphony Orchestra of Korea, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, the State Symphony Orchestra of Saloniki, South Czech Philharmonie Budweis, the Korean Chamber Orchestra, the Enesco Philharmonic Bucharest, Korean Philharmonic Orchestra, Szeged Symphony Orchestra of Hungary, Jyväskylä Sinfonia of Finland and Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra etc.
Starting 2000, he served as the artistic director of the Austro-Korean Philharmonie Vienna which he founded together UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon and between 2002 and 2005, he was the conductor of the Festival International Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra.
In 1992, he accepted the assignment of establishing the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie, gathering young professional musicians to introduce a new chamber orchestra to the European music scene. Since then the orchestra presented under his artistic direction highly creative subscription concert series in its home city Salzburg and toured extensively all over the European continent; literally from Sevilla to Cyprus, winning critical acclaim everywhere and enjoying exuberant reception in major concert halls such as Musikverein of Vienna ( in which all seven performances of Kammerphilharmonie so far were met with 2000 excited listeners), Konzerthaus of Vienna, Gasteig and Herkulesaal of Munich, Tonhalle of Zürich, National Philharmonie of Madrid to mention a few.
Also under his leadership, the Kammerphilhatrmonie performed successfully at renowned festivals such as “Carinthischen Sommer” festival, Festival International Cognac and Festival International Echternach (Luxembourg) and Salzburg Festival. The orchestra also appeared on several live radio and television broadcasts of Austrian National Network(ORF).
Between 1996 and 1999 he took on – together the pianist Cyprien Katsaris -the project of performing and recording complete works for piano and orchestra by Mozart (not only the piano concertos), introducing to the world for the first time in the recording history an edition of such kind. It resulted in production of 15 CDs which are being released in European market under the label Piano 21. His highly acclaimed release of C.P.E Bach Sinfonias with Naxos brought world wide recognition. Such as being chosen as one of the 10 best CDs by the CD magazine “Gramaphone” and from WQXR FM of New York.
Numerous well-known soloists have shared the stage with Lee, including: Mischa Maisky, Edith Mathis, Grace Bumbry, Pierre Amoyal, Irena Grafenauer, Guy Touvron, Sergei Nakajarkov, Cyprien Katsaris, Ingrid Haebler, Wolfgang Schulz, Michel Dalberto, Paul Badura-Skoda and Radovan Vlatkovic, Ruth Ziesak, to name a few.