The Kennedy Center

Maxim Vengerov


At just twenty-eight years of age Maxim Vengerov is recognised as one of the world’s most exciting violinists. Since he started playing at the age of four-and-a-half, he has evolved from a precociously talented child into an assured virtuoso. After his first recital in his hometown of Novosibirsk, Siberia, at the age of five, then studying with Galina Tourchaninova and Professor Zakhar Bron, he went on to win the First Prize in the Junior Wieniawski Competition in Poland when he was just ten years old. In 1990, aged fifteen, he took top honours at the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition which confirmed his reputation as a musician of the very highest order.

Vengerov recorded exclusively for Teldec Classics for ten years, during which time awards and accolades were plentiful, including both Gramophone Young Artist of the Year, and Ritmo (Spain) Artist of the Year in 1994. In 1996 he was awarded Record of the Year by Gramophone Magazine and received Grammy nominations for Classical Album of the Year and Best Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra for his recording of the Shostakovich and Prokofiev concertos No1. Vengerov received the Edison Award in 1997 in the Best Concerto Recording category, for his Shostakovich and Prokofiev concertos No2 recording. In May 2000 Vengerov signed an exclusive recording contract with EMI Classics with whom he made his debut in April 2000 with the release of Rodion Shchedrin’s ‘Concerto Cantabile’ and the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mstislav Rostropovich. His first CD under his exclusive contract was ‘Virtuosi’ (an ensemble of ten violinists plus Vag Papian, piano) released in July 2001. In September 2002 Vengerov was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year.

In 1997, at the age of twenty-three, Vengerov was appointed Envoy for Music by the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the first classical musician to be appointed in this role. By playing for abducted child-soldiers in Uganda, disadvantaged children in Harlem, children suffering from drug addiction in Thailand, and children on both sides of the Kosovan ethnic divide, it has afforded him an opportunity to both inspire children world-wide, and inspire others to raise funds for UNICEF-assisted programmes. He says: “I understood what miracles you can bring back to children with music; this is a universal language that everyone understands, it goes from heart to heart”. Another passion of Vengerov’s musical and personal life is his involvement with young people through giving Masterclasses to aspiring musicians. One such event was recorded by Channel Four Television in the UK as part of a documentary about Vengerov, called ‘Playing by Heart’ shown at the Cannes Television Festival in 1999.

Since October 2000, Vengerov has been a Professor of Violin at the Musikhochschule des Saarlandes. His pupils have appeared regularly not only as soloists, but also in ensemble with Vengerov, at many festivals, including young.euro.classic in Berlin in 2002.Maxim Vengerov performs regularly with all the major orchestras and the most eminent conductors. In the past three years he has taken up different projects in addition to the usual concerto and recital repertoire. On a tour with the English Chamber Orchestra he performed as both soloist and conductor for the first time, after studying conducting for two years in the class of Vag Papian, who himself studied with the legendary Ilya Musin. He performed recitals on the Baroque violin with Trevor Pinnock, went on a solo recital tour performing Bach, Shchedrin and Ysaÿe Sonatas using both his Strad and the Baroque violin in one concert, and took up the viola for another tour with the English Chamber Orchestra as well as to record the Walton Viola Concerto for EMI.

This season has seen Vengerov on extensive tours of Europe and the US with his solo recital programme of Bach, Ysaÿe, Shchedrin and Paganini, which also forms the programme of an EMI Classics CD. He has performed the Britten Violin Concerto and the Walton Viola Concerto in Europe and the US, which formed the programme of his third CD release on EMI Classics.
The 2003/04 season will start with an extensive tour in Europe and the US with Lalo’s Symphony Espagnol and Saint Saens Violin concert No 3, another major release on EMI Classics.
Mr Vengerov wishes to express his gratitude to Mrs Yoko Nagae Ceschina for all her continued support, advice and great help, which made possible the purchase of his unique ‘Kreutzer’ Stradivarius violin.

July 2003
Photo of Maxim Vengerov