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Leonidas Kavakos is recognized as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. By age 21, 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, which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991. Kavakos was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014, and is the 2017 winner of the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, Denmark's highest and most prestigious musical honor.
In the 2018-19 season, Leonidas Kavakos is the Artist-in-Residence at both the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and will appear in concerto and play-conduct performances with both orchestras. In North America, he performs with the San Francisco Symphony, including on tour to New York, and embarks on a recital tour with pianist Enrico Pace, with concerts in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Seattle, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia, as well as in concert with Yuja Wang at Carnegie Hall. Highlights in Europe this season include a tour with Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma performing the Brahms trios, and performances as soloist with the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Danish National Symphony, among others. In addition, he will tour China giving both recital and orchestral performances.
Over the years Kavakos has developed close relationships with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras, and more recently, he has also built a strong profile as a conductor. This season, he will conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and Budapest Festival Orchestra.
Kavakos recently signed an exclusive contract with Sony Classical, for whom he has previously recorded the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and Mozart's Violin Concertos play-conducting with the Camerata Salzburg. In fall 2017, he joined Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax for a highly successful recording of Brahms Trios for the label. Upcoming recording projects include the Beethoven Violin Concerto which he will play-conduct with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, followed by the complete Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas. Kavakos' other recordings include Virtuoso, Brahms Violin Sonatas with Yuja Wang, Brahms Violin Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly, and the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, all on the Decca label.
Kavakos plays the ‘Willemotte' Stradivarius violin of 1734.
Leonidas Kavakos, violin
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Born in modern day Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Additionally, he attended Columbia University where he majored in French. Mr. Ax made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series, and captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.
In partnership with colleagues Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma, he begins the current season with concerts in Vienna, Paris and London with the trios of Brahms recently released by SONY Classical. In the US he returns to the orchestras in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Portland, OR, and to Carnegie Hall for a recital to conclude the season. In Europe he can be heard in Munich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, London, and on tour with the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Italy.
Always a committed exponent of contemporary composers, with works written for him by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner already in his repertoire, most recently he has added HK Gruber's Piano Concerto and Samuel Adams' "Impromptus".
A Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, recent releases include Mendelssohn Trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss' Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. In 2015 Deutche Grammophon released a duo recording with Mr. Perlman of Sonatas by Faure and Strauss, which the two artists presented on tour during the 2015/2016 season. Mr. Ax has received GRAMMY® Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn's piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, three solo Brahms albums, an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the premiere recording of John Adams's Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra for Nonesuch. In the 2004/05 season Mr. Ax also contributed to an International EMMY® Award-Winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2013, Mr. Ax's recording Variations received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th century music/Piano).
A frequent and committed partner for chamber music, he has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.
Mr. Ax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. They have two children together, Joseph and Sarah. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Skidmore College, Yale University, and Columbia University.
Emanuel Ax, piano