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Leonidas Kavakos

Violin, Conductor
Léonie Sonning Music Prize Winner 2017 / Artist in Residence, Amsterdam Concertgebouw 2017-18 / Artist in Residence, Vienna Musikverein 2017-18

  • Leonidas Kavakos is recognised across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. He works with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors.

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  • The three important mentors in his life have been Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold and Ferenc Rados. By the age of 21, Leonidas Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions in 1988. This success led to him recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history, and which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991.

    Leonidas Kavakos was the winner of the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017. This prestigious prize is Denmark’s highest musical honour and is awarded annually to an internationally recognised composer, instrumentalist, conductor or singer. Previous winners include Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, György Ligeti, Alfred Brendel, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle.

    In the 2017/18 season Kavakos is Artist in Residence at both the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Vienna Musikverein. He tours Europe with the Filharmonica della Scala and Chailly and tours Europe and Asia with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Blomstedt. Elsewhere, he performs widely as soloist including with the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Kavakos also gives the European premiere of Lera Auerbach’s Nyx: Fractured Dreams (Violin Concerto No. 4) with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

    In December 2017 Kavakos embarked on a European recital tour with Yuja Wang, and in February 2018 he tours North America performing Brahms and Schubert trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax. He will also appear in recital with regular chamber music partner Enrico Pace in Asia and Europe.

    Latterly, Leonidas Kavakos has built a strong profile as a conductor, and has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gürzenich Orchester, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, and Budapest Festival orchestras. In the 2017/18 season he will conduct the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and Vienna Symphony.

    For Decca Classics, Leonidas Kavakos has recorded Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace (January 2013), which was awarded the ECHO Klassik ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’. This was followed by the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly (October 2013), Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang, (March 2014), and "Virtuoso" (April 2016). He was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014. In September 2017 Leonidas Kavakos joins Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax on a record of Brahms Trios released by Sony Classical.

    Leonidas Kavakos’ earlier discography encompasses recordings for BIS, ECM, and subsequently, for Sony Classical, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (ECHO Klassik ‘Best Concerto Recording’) and Mozart’s Violin Concertos, conducting and playing with Camerata Salzburg.

    Born and brought up in a musical family in Athens and still resident there, Kavakos curates an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in Athens, attracting violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflecting his deep commitment to the handing on of musical knowledge and traditions. Part of this tradition is the art of violin and bow-making, which Kavakos regards as a great mystery and to this day, an undisclosed secret. He plays the ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius violin of 1734 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S.P. Greiner, E. Haahti and D. Bagué.

    2017-2018 season / 608 words. Not to be altered without permission.
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Orchestral highlights

Vienna Philharmonic / Chailly, Eschenbach

Vienna Symphony / Afkham, Jurowski

Bayerische Rundfunk / Jansons

Berliner Philharmoniker / Rattle, Mehta

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig / Bringuier, Chailly, Blomstedt

Munich Philharmonic / Denève, Gergiev

WDR Symphony Orchestra / Saraste

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Gatti, Gergiev, Jansons

London Symphony Orchestra / Rattle, Harding

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Jurowski

Orchestre de Paris / Temirkanov, Järvi

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande / Stenz

Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Gergiev

Filarmonica della Scala / Chailly, Harding

Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra / Gergiev

Boston Symphony Orchestra / Nelsons, Denève

The Cleveland Orchestra / Noseda

New York Philharmonic / Gilbert, Haitink

Philadelphia Orchestra / Nézet-Séguin

San Francisco Symphony / Tilson-Thomas

Conducting highlights

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Bamberg Symphony
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Gürzenich Orchestra
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
New York Philharmonic
Boston Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra
Houston Symphony

This is playing that sorts out the men from the boys. I doubt if there is more than a handful of violinists alive who can match Kavakos in the tonal variety, accuracy and speed of his harmonics, or in the deft alternation of bowing and left-hand pizzicato. In fact, I wonder if Paganini would have equalled him.

Gramophone, May 2016

Leonidas Kavakos was the soloist, superbly articulate and incisive, yet rapturously lyrical.

Guardian, January 2016

Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor … brought out the best in its soloist … an intriguing mixture of fierce energy and fierce self-restraint. At all points he put the music before showmanship.

Financial Times, April 2015

Intermusica represents Leonidas Kavakos worldwide

Stephen Lumsden
Managing Director
+44 20 7608 9911

Jessica Ford
Director, Artist Management
+44 20 7608 9925

Victoria Ford
Associate Artist Manager
+44 20 7608 9926

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Piano accompanist

Roger Vignoles