Leonidas Kavakos is recognized throughout the world as a performer of exceptional skill, rare virtuosity, captivating the public and professionals with excellent musicality and integrity of interpretations.
The violinist was born in 1967 in Athens in a family of musicians and took his first steps in music under the guidance of his parents. Then he studied at the Greek Conservatory with Stelios Kafantaris, whom he considers one of his three main mentors, along with Joseph Gingold and Ferenc Rados.
By the age of 21, Kavakos had already won three prestigious international competitions: in 1985 he won the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, and in 1988 the Paganini Competition in Genoa and the Naumburg Competition in the USA. These achievements brought the young violinist worldwide fame, as did the recording that soon followed – the first in history – of the original version of the J. Sibelius Concerto, awarded the Gramophone magazine prize. The musician was honored to play the famous Il Cannone violin by Guarneri del Gesu, which belonged to Paganini.
During the years of his solo career, Kavakos had the opportunity to perform with the most famous orchestras and conductors in the world, such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chaily. In the 2012/13 season, he was artist-in-residence of the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras, participated in the anniversary tour of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and M. Jansons with Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (this work was performed by the orchestra for the first time).
In the 2013/14 season, Kavakos made his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by R. Chaily. In the US, he regularly performs with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In the 2014/15 season, the violinist was Artist-in-Residence at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Cooperation began with a new tour of European cities led by maestro Maris Jansons. Also last season, Kavakos was Artist-in-Residence with the US National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC.
In January 2015, L. Kavakos performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, and in February presented it at the London Barbican.
Being a “man of the world”, Kavakos retains and maintains close ties with his homeland – Greece. For 15 years, he patronized a cycle of chamber music concerts at the Megaron Concert Hall in Athens, where musicians performed – his friends and constant partners: Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Emanuel Ax, Nikolai Lugansky, Yuja Wang, Gauthier Capuçon. He oversees the annual Violin and Chamber Music Masterclasses in Athens, attracting violinists and ensembles from all over the world and demonstrating a deep commitment to spreading musical knowledge and traditions.
In the last decade, the career of Kavakos as a conductor has been intensively developing. Since 2007, he has been directing the Salzburg Chamber Orchestra (Camerata Salzburg), replacing
post of Sir Roger Norrington. In Europe he has conducted the German Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; in the US, by the Boston, Atlanta, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras. Last season, the musician again performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra, and made his debut at the console of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France.
Since 2012, Leonidas Kavakos has been the exclusive artist of Decca Classics. His debut release on the label, Beethoven’s Complete Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, was awarded Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2013 ECHO Klassik Awards and was also nominated for a Grammy Award. In the 2013/14 season, Kavakos and Pace presented a complete cycle of Beethoven’s sonatas at New York’s Carnegie Hall and in the countries of the Far East.
The violinist’s second disc on Decca Classics, released in October 2013, features Brahms’ Violin Concerto with the Gewandhaus Orchestra (conducted by Riccardo Chailly). The third disc on the same label (Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang) was released in the spring of 2014. In November 2014, the musicians performed a cycle of sonatas at Carnegie Hall (the concert was broadcast in the USA and Canada), and in 2015 they present the program in the largest cities of Europe.
Following the Sibelius Concerto and a number of other early recordings on the Dynamic, BIS and ECM labels, Kavakos recorded extensively on Sony Classical, including five violin concertos and Mozart’s Symphony No. ).
In 2014, the violinist was awarded the Gramophone Award and named Artist of the Year.
In the summer of 2015, he took part in major international festivals: “Stars of the White Nights” in St. Petersburg, Verbier, Edinburgh, Annecy. Among his partners in these concerts were the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra with Valery Gergiev and the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic with Yuri Temikanov, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with Gianandrea Noseda.
In June 2015, Leonidas Kavakos was a member of the jury of the violin competition of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition. P.I. Tchaikovsky.
The 2015/2016 season is full of bright events in the career of a musician. Among them: tours in Russia (concerts in Kazan with the State Symphony Orchestra of Tatarstan conducted by Alexander Sladkovsky and in Moscow with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia conducted by Vladimir Yurovsky); concerts in the UK and a tour of Spain with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor V. Yurovsky); two long tours of US cities (Cleveland, San Francisco, Philadelphia in November 2015; New York, Dallas in March 2016); concerts with the Bavarian Radio orchestras (conducted by Mariss Jansons), the London Symphony Orchestra (Simon Rattle), the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Yurovsky), the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Orchester National de Lyon (Jukka-Pekka Saraste), the Orchestra de Paris (Paavo Järvi), the La Scala Theater Orchestra (Daniel Harding), the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra (Gustavo Gimeno), the Dresden Staatskapella (Robin Ticciati) and a number of other leading ensembles in Europe and the USA; performances as a conductor and soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, the Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony; chamber concerts, in which pianists Enrico Pace and Nikolai Lugansky, cellist Gauthier Capuçon will perform as partners of the musician.
Leonidas Kavakos is passionately interested in the art of making violins and bows (old and modern), considering this art to be a great mystery and mystery, unsolved until our days. He himself plays the Abergavenny Stradivarius violin (1724), owns violins made by the best contemporary masters, as well as an exclusive collection of bows.