LEONIDAS KAVAKOS Leonidas Kavakos is recognized 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 is an exclusive recording artist with Decca Classics.
The three important mentors in his life are Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold and Ferenc Rados. By the age of 21, Leonidas Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius (1985), Paganini, and Naumburg competitions (1988). This success led to his recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history. It won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991.
The orchestras with whom Kavakos has developed close relationships include the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Eschenbach/Chailly), Berliner Philharmoniker (Rattle), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Jansons/Gatti), London Symphony Orchestra (Gergiev/Rattle), and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (Chailly). Kavakos also works closely with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala and, in the USA, with the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra.
Kavakos is the Artist-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic for the 2016-17 season, which will feature him in solo, play-conduct, and recital performances. He also appears as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and play-conducts the Houston Symphony, and embarks on a recital tour with pianist Yuja Wang in both Europe and the U.S. Other highlights this season include a European tour with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and a tour to Switzerland with the Mariinsky Orchestra, as well as performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Philharmonia Orchestra, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, among others.
Additionally, Kavakos has built a strong profile as a conductor, and has worked with the Atlanta, Boston, London, Vienna Symphony Orchestras, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Budapest Festival Orchestra. This season, Kavakos makes conducting debuts with the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Kavakos' first release on Decca Classics, the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace (January 2013), resulted in the ECHO Klassik award "Instrumentalist of the Year," followed by the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly (October 2013), and Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang (March 2014). His most recent recording Virtuoso was released in April 2016. Kavakos was named Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014.
His earlier discography includes recordings for BIS, ECM, and subsequently, on Sony Classical, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (ECHO Klassik "Best Concerto Recording") and Mozart’s Violin Concertos, conducting and playing with Camerata Salzburg.
Born and raised in a musical family in Athens, he curated a chamber music cycle for 15 years at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall, featuring Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Menahem Pressler, Emanuel Ax, Nikolai Lugansky, Yuja Wang and Gautier Capuçon, among others. Kavakos also curates an annual violin and chamber music master class in Athens, attracting violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflecting his deep commitment to the handing down of musical knowledge and traditions.
The art of violin- and bow-making is considered by Kavakos a great mystery and, to our day, an undisclosed secret. He plays the "Abergavenny" Stradivarius violin of 1724 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S.P. Greiner, E. Haahti, and D. Bagué.