Leonidas Kavakos, who was born in 1967 in Athens, began playing violin at the age of five. He completed his studies with Stelios Kafantaris at the conservatory of his native city and with Josef Gingold at the University of Indiana. In 1985 Kavakos triumphed at the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, and in 1988 he won the Naumburg Violin Competition in New York and the Premio Paganini in Genoa. Since then he has performed as a soloist with many renowned orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Filarmonica della Scala, the Chicago Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Partners on the podium have included such conductors as Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, and Sir Simon Rattle. Kavakos himself has increasingly taken up conducting. From 2007 to 2009 he was Artistic Director of the Camerata Salzburg, which he had earlier led in numerous concerts as Principal Guest Artist, starting in 2002. Kavakos has additionally conducted the London, Boston, and Houston Symphony Orchestras; the Budapest Festival Orchestra; the Rotterdam Philharmonic; the Vienna Symphony, and the DSO Berlin. Among his partners as a chamber musician are Emanuel Ax, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Hélène Grimaud, Yuja Wang, and Elisabeth Leonskaja. In the 2016-17 season Kavakos was artist-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic. His cycle of the complete Beethoven sonatas with Enrico Pace won the ECHO Klassik Award in 2013. In 2014 he received Gramophone’s Artist of the Year Award. He released his most recent album, Virtuoso, in April 2016, and in 2017 he received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. Leonidas Kavakos plays the “Abergavenny” Stradivari from 1724.
As of July 2017