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.