27 February 1947 |
Riga, Latvia, Soviet Union
Nicolo Amati 1641
Guarneri del Gesù 1730
Baron Feilitsch Stradivarius 1734
Life and career
Gidon Kremer was born in Riga. His father was Jewish and had survived the Holocaust. His mother had 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, where his teacher was mainly Voldemar Sturestep. From 1965 Gidon Kremer studied 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 Vienna's Musikverein in the year 1970, where he played with Thomas Schippers and the Wiener Symphoniker. He debuted in Germany at the festival Bachwoche Ansbach and in the Berlin Philharmonie in 1975 and in London under André Previn in 1976, followed by appearances at the Salzburg Festival in 1976 and in New York City and in Japan in 1977. In 1980, he left the USSR and settled in Germany. In 1981, Kremer founded a chamber music festival in Lockenhaus, Austria, with a focus on new and unconventional programming, serving as artistic director for 30 years until 2011. In 1997, 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 (1996/97) and Basel ("les musiques") in Switzerland. In 2007-2008, he and Kremerata Baltica toured with the classical musical comedy duo Igudesman & Joo. He also made regular appearances at the Verbier Festival until the summer of 2011, when he publicly criticised the perceived 'star culture' aspect of the festival and withdrew from the festival.
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 Astor Piazzolla (in the Hommage à Piazzolla recordings), George Enescu, Alban Berg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Béla Bartók, Philip Glass, Alfred Schnittke, Leonid Desyatnikov, Alexander Raskatov, Alexander Vustin, Lera Auerbach, Pēteris Vasks, Arvo Pärt, Victoria Poleva, Valentyn Sylvestrov, Victor Kissine, Mieczysław Weinberg, Arthur Lourié, Steven Kovacs Tickmayer 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), Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, Victor Kissine. His partners in performance include Valery Afanassiev, Martha Argerich, Mikhail Pletnev, Oleg Maisenberg, Vadim Sakharov, Mischa Maisky, Yo-Yo Ma, Clemens Hagen, Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė, Yuri Bashmet, Kim Kashkashian, Thomas Zehetmayr, Tatiana Grindenko. He has a large discography on the Deutsche Grammophon label, for which he has recorded since 1978. He has also recorded for Philips Records, EMI, Decca Records, ECM and Nonesuch Records.
In other media, Kremer played the role of Paganini in Peter Schamoni's 1983 movie Frühlingssinfonie ("Spring Symphony") and was the music director of the movie Le joueur du violon by Charles Van Damme.
Kremer is the author of four books on music, including Fragments of Childhood (Kindheitsplitter) and Letters to a Young Pianist (2013).
Kremer's first wife was the Russian pianist Elena Bashkirova.
Honours and awards
- Grammy Award nomination in 2015 for recording “Mieczysław Weinberg” (ECM New Series, 2014) in the category of Classical Music: Best Classical Compendium 
- Grammy Award in 2002 for recording “After Mozart” (Nonesuch, 2001) in the category of Classical Music: Best Small Ensemble Performance
- ECHO Klassik prize in 2002 for recording “After Mozart” (Nonesuch, 2001)
- Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (23 December 2011, Italy)
- Rolf Schock Prize (2008, Sweden)
- IMC-UNESCO International Music Prize (2001, performers category, jointly awarded to Oumou Sangaré)
- Lithuanian Great Duke Gediminas Medal (2000, Lithuania)
- Latvian Great Music Award (1995, 2004, Latvia)
- Officer of the Order of the Three Stars (12 March 1997, Latvia)
- Léonie Sonning Music Prize (1989, Denmark)
- Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (1982)
- International Tchaikovsky Competition (first prize, 1970, Moscow)
- Paganini Competition (first prize, 1969, Genoa)
- Queen Elisabeth Music Competition (third prize, 1967, Brussels)
- Charlotte Higgins (22 November 2000). "Perfect isn't good enough". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
- "Lockenhaus: Gidon Kremer zieht sich zurück". Der Standard. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
- Jeremy Eichler (2011-10-12). "Having denounced star system, Gidon Kremer comes to Longy". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
- Andrew Clements (2012-12-06). "Hommage à Piazzolla – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
- Andrew Clements (2009-04-24). "Schumann: Violin Sonata No 2; Kinderszenen; Bartók: Solo Violin Sonata; Violina Sonata No 1; etc: Kremer/Argerich". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
- Andrew Clements (2014-02-20). "Weinberg: Sonata No 3; Trio; Sonatina; Concertino; Symphony No 10 – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
- 57th Annual Grammy Awards
- 44th Annual Grammy Awards
- "Prize laureates 1975 - 2004". International Music Council.
- "Ar Triju Zvaigžņu ordeni apbalvoto personu reģistrs" (doc) (in Latvian). Chancery of the Latvian president. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
- Gidon Kremer at AllMusic
- Gidon Kremer website
- Kremerata Baltica official website
- Interview with Gidon Kremer by Bruce Duffie, May 19, 1997
- Gidon Kremer letter to Verbier Festival "Why I quit the celebrity ratrace"