In the three decades since he won three major competitions over three years, Leonidas Kavakos has continued to soar. Two years ago, the Greek violinist received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize, Denmark’s highest music honor. It has been awarded to luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich and Igor Stravinsky.
Then in 2017-18, Kavakos served as artist-in-residence in not just one but two of the world’s most revered concert halls: Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Vienna’s Musikverein. For 2018-19, he served as artist-in-residence at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Season to season, he regularly performs with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which he will serve as soloist Nov. 1-2 and 5 in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Riccardo Muti.
“It is a very satisfying situation,” Kavakos said. “I’m not somebody who likes the words ‘career’ and so on, even though they are very much realistic words. But somehow I don’t see it like that, because a career is like a race. For me, it’s not like this. It’s more like an artistic searching in order to be able to develop in the direction I believe I should be going as an artist and a human being.”
Kavakos recently rejoined Sony Classical, for which recorded earlier in his career. His first solo project for the label is a recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, which he will play and conduct with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. “It is very exciting to be returning to Sony Classical for some of the most important and challenging violin repertoire. After recording music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Brahms [previously for the label], I turn to Beethoven’s glorious violin concerto. Wonderful! In a world and a lifestyle full of visual and acoustical ‘noise,’ recordings provide a very personal and intimate moment of communion with the essence of music and therefore a way to rediscover oneself.”
A version of this article appeared previously on Sounds and Stories.