About this Artist
Leonidas Kavakos is recognized across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, acclaimed for his matchless technique, his captivating artistry and his superb musicianship as well as for the integrity of his playing. He works with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and plays as recitalist in the world’s premier recital halls and festivals. He is an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classical.
The three important mentors in his life have been Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold, and Ferenc Rados, with whom he still works. 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 (1903-04), the first recording of this work in history, and which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991.
Kavakos is now an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classics. His 2019 recording, released worldwide in anticipation of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, featured the Beethoven Violin Concerto, which he conducted and played with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, coupled with the Beethoven Septet, played with members of the orchestra. In the anniversary year, Kavakos both played and play/conducted the Beethoven Violin Concerto with orchestras across Europe and the U.S. He also played the complete Beethoven Violin Sonata cycle in Shanghai and Guangzhou, Milan and Rome, and gave a number of single Beethoven recitals in various cities, at Wigmore Hall in London, in Barcelona, Parma, and Copenhagen.
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 named Gramophone Artist of the Year.
Further accolades came in 2017, when Kavakos was awarded the prestigious Leonie Sonning Prize—Denmark’s highest musical honor, given annually to an internationally recognized composer, conductor, instrumentalist, or singer.
In recent seasons, in addition to concerts with major orchestras in Europe and the United States, Kavakos once again joined Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax for recitals at Carnegie Hall comprising Beethoven trios and sonatas. He has undertaken two Asian tours, first as soloist with the Singapore Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic and in recital in the NCPA Beijing, and he performed 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 years, 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 coming seasons, he will return to two orchestras where he has developed close ties as both violinist and conductor: L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has also play/conducted the Czech Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI.
Born and brought up in a musical family in Athens, Kavakos curates an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in Athens, which attracts violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflects his deep commitment to the handing down 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 an undisclosed secret to this day,. He plays the “Willemotte” Stradivarius violin of 1734 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S.P. Greiner, E. Haahti, and D. Bagué. Intermusica represents Leonidas Kavakos worldwide.