Among the handful of the world’s leading violinists, Gidon Kremer has perhaps pursued the most unconventional career. Born in Riga, Latvia, he began studying at the age of four with his father and grandfather, who were both distinguished string players. At the age of seven, he entered Riga Music School. At sixteen he was awarded the First Prize of the Latvian Republic and two years later he began his studies with David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory. He went on to win prestigious awards including the 1967 Queen Elizabeth Competition and First Prizes in the Montreal, Paganini, and Tchaikovsky International Competitions.
This success launched Gidon Kremer’s distinguished career, in the course of which he has established a worldwide reputation as one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation. He has appeared on virtually every major concert stage with the most celebrated orchestras of Europe and North America, collaborating with today’s foremost conductors.
In 1997, he founded Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra to foster outstanding young musicians from the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Since then, Maestro Kremer has been touring extensively with the orchestra appearing at the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls. He has also recorded almost 25 CDs with the orchestra for Teldec, Nonesuch, DGG, and ECM. Winter 2017 will celebrate the orchestra’s 20thanniversary with a North American tour including concerts in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Princeton, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, and Calgary.
Gidon Kremer’s repertoire is unusually extensive, encompassing all standard classical and romantic violin works, as well as music by 20th and 21st century masters such as Henze, Berg and Stockhausen; most recently, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, whose violin concerto will be presented by the Boston and National Symphonies with Mr. Kremer in January. He also champions the works of living Russian and Eastern European composers and has performed many important new compositions, several of them dedicated to him. He has become associated with such diverse composers as Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Sofia Gubaidulina, Valentin Silvestrov, Luigi Nono, Aribert Reimann, Peteris Vasks, John Adams, Victor Kissine, Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, Leonid Desyatnikov, and Astor Piazzolla, bringing their music to audiences in a way that respects tradition yet remains contemporary. It would be fair to say that no other soloist of his international stature has done as much to promote the cause of contemporary composers and new music for violin.
An exceptionally prolific recording artist, Gidon Kremer has made more than 120 albums, many of which brought him prestigious international awards and prizes in recognition of his exceptional interpretative powers. These include the Grand prix du Disque, Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, the Ernst-von-Siemens Musikpreis, the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the Premio dell Accademia Musicale Chigiana, the Triumph Prize 2000 (Moscow), the Unesco Prize in 2001, the Saeculum-Glashütte Original-Musikfestspielpreis Dresden in 2007 and the Rolf-Schock Prize in 2008 (Stockholm), the Life Achievement prize of the Istanbul Music Festival in 2010, and Una Vita Nella Musica - Artur Rubinstein Prize (Venice) in 2011 which is considered to be the Nobel Prize of music. In September 2016 he was announced as the recipient of the prestigious Praemium Imperiale Award (Japan) in recognition of his 'virtuosity and stylistic versatility.'
In February 2002 he and Kremerata Baltica were awarded a Grammy and an ECHO (Germany) Prize for the Nonesuch recording After Mozart. Mieczyslaw Weinberg (2014, ECM) recorded with Kremerata Baltica and soloists was nominated for a Grammy in 2015, and makes a strong case for Shostakovich’s assertion that Weinberg was one of the great composers of his era. Also available on ECM (2015) is Chiaroscuro, an 80th birthday tribute to esteemed colleague and friend Giya Kancheli. The latest recording for DG, New Seasons (2015), performed with Kremerata Baltica includes Glass’ Violin concerto No. 2, the American Four Seasons and works by Pärt, Kancheli, and Umebayashi.
Gidon Kremer plays a Nicola Amati, dated from 1641. He is also an author of four books (the latest being Letters to a Young Pianist (2013) translated into many languages, all of which reflect the breadth of his artistic pursuits and aesthetic outlook.