Gidon Kremer - biography
Gidon Kremer (Latvian: Gidons Krēmers) (born February 27, 1947) is a Latvian violinist and conductor. In 1980 he left the USSR and settled in Germany.
Kremer was born in Riga to parents of German-Jewish (his father being a Holocaust survivor) and Latvian-Swedish origins. He began playing the violin at the age of four, receiving instruction from his father and his grandfather, who were both professional violinists. He went on to study at the Riga School of Music and with David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1967, he won third prize at the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels; then, in 1969, second prize at the Montreal International Violin Competition (shared with Oleh Krysa) followed by first prize at the Paganini Competition in Genoa; and finally first prize again in 1970 at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
Kremer's first concert in the West was in Germany in 1975, followed by appearances at the Salzburg Festival in 1976 and in New York City in 1977. In 1981, Kremer founded a chamber music festival in Lockenhaus, Austria, with a focus on new and unconventional programming; since 1992 the festival has been known as "Kremerata Musica" and in 1996 Kremer founded the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra, composed of young players from the Baltic region. He was also among the artistic directors of the festival "Art Projekt 92" in Munich and is director of the Musiksommer Gstaad festival in Switzerland. In 2008, he and Kremerata Baltica toured with the classical musical comedy duo Igudesman & Joo.
Kremer is known for his wide-ranging repertoire, extending from Antonio Vivaldi and J.S. Bach to contemporary composers. He has championed the work of composers such as Ástor Piazzolla, George Enescu, Alban Berg, Philip Glass, Alfred Schnittke, Leonid Desyatnikov, Alexander Raskatov, Alexander Voustin, Lera Auerbach, Pēteris Vasks, Arvo Pärt, Roberto Carnevale and John Adams. Among the many composers who have dedicated works to him are Sofia Gubaidulina (Offertorium) and Luigi Nono (La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura). His partners in performance include Valery Afanassiev, Martha Argerich, Oleg Maisenberg, Mischa Maisky, Yuri Bashmet and Vadim Sakharov. He has a large discography on the Deutsche Grammophon label, for which he has recorded since 1978; he has also recorded for Philips Records, as well as Decca Records, ECM and Nonesuch Records.
Kremer played the role of Paganini in Peter Schamoni's 1983 movie, Frühlingssinfonie [Spring Symphony].
Kremer has numbered in his collection of antique violins a Guarneri del Gesù violin made in 1730; and the Antonio Stradivari violin of 1734 often referred to by its sobriquet, Baron Feititsch-Heermann. His current violin is a Nicolo Amati violin dating from 1641.
Honours and awards
- Queen Elisabeth Music Competition (third prize) (1967; Brussels)
- Paganini Competition (first prize) (1969; Genoa)
- International Tchaikovsky Competition (first prize) (1970; Moscow)
- Léonie Sonning Music Prize (1989; Denmark)
- Latvian Great Music Award (1995, 2004; Latvia)
- Lithuanian Great Duke Gediminas Medal (2000; Lithuania)
- Rolf Schock Prize (2008; Sweden)