Leonidas Kavakos | Biography


Leoniads Kavakos
Leonidas Kavakos has established himself as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. International recognition first came while Kavakos was still in his teens, winning the Sibelius Competition in 1985 and, three years later, the Paganini Competition.
In 2007, for his recording of the complete Beethoven Sonatas with Enrico Pace, Kavakos was named Echo Klassik Instrumentalist of the year. In 2014, Kavakos was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year.
Further accolades came in 2017 when Kavakos was awarded the prestigious Leonie Sonning Prize – Denmark’s highest musical honour, given annually to an internationally recognised composer, condcutor, instrumentalist or singer. Previous winners include Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Alfred Brendel, Benjamin Britten, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, Arthur Rubenstein and Dmitri Shostakovich.
August 2019 was a full and rewarding month: after the Verbier Festival where he appeared in recital with Evgent Kissin and conducted the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra in a programme in which he played Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Antoine Tamestit, he joined YoYo Ma and Emanuel Ax at the Tanglewood Music Festival for a programme of Beethoven Piano trios, in a duo recital with Ax of Beethoven Sonatas, and in an orchestral concert with the Boston Symphony in which he played and conducted Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Dvorak Symphony No. 7.
Kavakos was also invited as “Artiste Etoile” at the Lucerne Festival where he appeared with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev, Vienna Philharmonic with Andes Orozco Estrada, and in recital with Yuja Wang.
In the 2019/20 season, in addition to concerts with major orchestras in Europe and the United States, Leonidas Kavakos will one again join YoYo Ma and Emanuel Ax for three programmes in Carngie Hall comprising Beethoven trios and sonatas. He will undertake two Asian tours, first as soloist with the Singapore Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic and in recital in the NCPA Beijing, and then in the spring he performs with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra, prior to playing Beethoven Sonata Cycles in Shanghai and Guangzhou with Enrico Pace.
In recent year, Leonidas Kavakos has succeeded in building a strong profile as a conductor and has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Gürzenich Orchester, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. In the forthcoming season he will return to two orchestra where he has developed close ties as both violinist and condcutor: L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. This season he also play/conducts theCzech Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI.
Kavakos has been invited as tour soloist with the Leipzig Gewandhaus/Chailly, Vienna Philharmonic/Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw/Jansons, and in the 2012/13 season, he was the focus of the London Symphony Orchestra’s UBS Soundscapes LSO Artist Portrait as well as the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Artist-in-Residence.
With his probing and analytical approach, coupled with exceptional virtuosity, Kavakos brings authority and depth of expression to the great concerti of the 19th and 20th centuries that are the mainstay of his repertoire. However, he is known too for his interpretations of Bach and Mozart, as well as of works such as Dutilleux L’arbre des songes and Hartmann Concerto funèbre.
Kavakos is a committed chamber musician and recitalist and is a favoured artist at the Verbier, Montreux-Vevey, Bad Kissingen and Edinburgh festivals and at the Salzburg Festival, where in August 2012, together with Enrico Pace, he played a complete cycle of Beethoven’s violin sonatas that was recorded by Bavarian Radio and broadcast by BR in the autumn of 2012 as part of a television documentary about the violinist. He also performed the cycle with Pace at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the two artists have recorded the complete sonatas for Decca Classics. In the 2012/13 season, Kavakos and Emanuel Ax played the cycle in the Musikverein, Vienna, as well as a single Beethoven sonata programme in Berlin. Kavakos’s other distinguished chamber-music partners include Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Antoine Tamestit, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Kozhukhin and Yuja Wang, with whom he will give a series of recitals in Europe in the 2013/14 season.
Leonidas Kavakos is increasingly recognised as a conductor of considerable gift and musicianship. He has worked as conductor/soloist with the Boston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothen­burg Symphony, La Scala Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Conducting debuts in the 2012/13 season included the Finnish Radio and Vienna Symphony orchestras, and he returned to the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in October 2012, where he appeared in a variety of programmes in a special series Focus Kavakos. His extensive plans for the 2013/14 season include conducting debuts with the London Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne.
Kavakos’s first release as an exclusive Decca recording artist was a 3-CD set of the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas (“…impeccable technique, sweet sound, sensitivity to the mood and texture of the music and awareness of both the big picture and the fine detail” – Daily Telegraph), with pianist Enrico Pace in January 2013. October brings his new recording of the Brahms concerto with Riccardo Chailly conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Kavakos already has a distinguished discography with a number of award-winning recordings – his Mendelssohn Violin Concerto disc receiving an ECHO Klassik award for Best Concerto Recording 2009; he has also recorded live Mozart’s five Violin Concertos and Symphony No. 39 with Camerata Salzburg. In 1991, shortly after winning the Sibelius Competition, Kavakos won a Gramophone Award for the first ever recording of the original version of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (1903/04), recorded on BIS. For ECM, he has released recordings of sonatas by Enescu and Ravel with pianist Péter Nagy, and a recording of works by Bach and Stravinsky.
Leonidas Kavakos plays the ‘Abergavenny’ Stradivarius of 1724.
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