Leonidas Kavakos was born and brought up in a musical family in Athens, where he still lives. The three important mentors in his life have been Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold, and Ferenc Rados. By the age of twenty-one, he had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions in 1988. He followed this with the first-ever recording of the original version of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, which won the Gramophone Award for Concerto of the Year in 1991. More recently, Mr. Kavakos was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2014, and the Léonie Sonning Music Prize 2017, Denmark’s highest musical honor.
In the 2018-19 season, Mr. Kavakos is Artist-in-Residence at both the Dallas Symphony and the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and he will appear in concerto and play-conduct performances with both orchestras. In North America, he embarks on a recital tour with pianist Enrico Pace, with concerts in Santa Barbara, Seattle, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia, as well as in concert with Yuja Wang at Carnegie Hall. In January 2019 he returns to Davies Symphony Hall for a recital. 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. This season, he also conducts the Vienna Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and Budapest Festival Orchestra.
Mr. Kavakos is an exclusive Sony Classical artist. His recordings for the label include 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 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, followed by the complete Bach solo sonatas and partitas. Mr. Kavakos’s other recordings include Virtuoso, Brahms violin sonatas with Yuja Wang, Brahms’s Violin Concerto with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly, and the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Enrico Pace, all on the Decca label.
Mr. Kavakos plays the 1734 ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius violin. He made his debut under San Francisco Symphony auspices in 1994.