Maxim Vengerov

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Maxim Vengerov
Максим Александрович Венгеров
Background information
Birth nameMaxim Alexandrovich Vengerov
Born (1974-08-20) 20 August 1974 (age 48)
Novosibirsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union[1][2]
  • Musician
  • Conductor
  • Professor
Instrument(s)Violin, Viola
Years active1984–present

Maxim Alexandrovich Vengerov (Russian: Максим Александрович Венгеров, lit.'mɐkˈsʲim ɐlʲɪkˈsandrəvʲɪtɕ vʲɪnˈɡʲerəf'; Hebrew: מקסים ונגרוב; born 20 August 1974) is a Russian-born Israeli violinist, violist, and conductor. Classic FM has called him “one of the greatest violinists in the world.”[3]


Vengerov was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia, the only child of Aleksandr and Larisa Borisovna, oboist and orphanage children’s choir director respectively, and is Jewish.[4][2] He sang in his mother's choir from the age of three.[5] He began studying the violin at age five with Galina Turchaninova, a famous violin teacher.[6][7] Upon meeting the child, she asked: "Do you have strength in these hands?"[6] The five-year-old punched her in the stomach, as hard as he could.[6] He said years later: "Fortunately, she was in a good mood that day, and she accepted me as a student."[6]

Lessons went badly at first, however.[7][8] Turchaninova was very strict.[7][8] At one point, Vengerov stubbornly refused to play even one note for her, for five straight lessons.[9][7][8] She told his mother that she was dismissing him as a student.[7][8] His mother began to cry, and upon seeing that, Vengerov picked up his violin and played 17 assigned pieces from memory, without interruption.[9][7][8] Even though he had refused to play at all at his lessons, he had been practicing the works.[7][8] Turchaninova agreed to continue his lessons, saying: "Very well. A violinist like Maxim is born only once in a hundred years."[7][8]

At the age of 10, Vengerov won the 1984 International Karol Lipiński and Henryk Wieniawski Young Violin Player Competition. That year he recorded on the leading Russian record label, Melodiya, on LP stereo.[4] At age 11 as part of the Tchaikovsky Competition opening concert he recorded again on LP, but digital.[4] Then when he went to London he recorded his first CD, for Biddulph Records.[4]

For the next five years he was a pupil of Zakhar Bron, who in 1987 left the Soviet Union to teach at the Royal Academy of Music in London. When Bron relocated to the Musikhochschule Lübeck in Germany, Vengerov followed suit.[2] In 1990, Vengerov won the International Carl Flesch Competition in London,[4] which led to his recording contract with Teldec and the launch of his international career.

Vengerov moved to Israel with his parents and grandmother in 1990, when he was 16 years old.[10] There, he studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.[10] He said that Israel "is in my genes," and that his "heart and soul belong to Israel."[10] He goes to Israel whenever it is experiencing a conflict, saying: "I feel I’m a soldier with my rifle in my violin and bow. This tradition is from my predecessors — Isaac Stern used to do the same."[4] In 2006 he founded a music school in the north of Israel, Musicians of Tomorrow, run by a former first violinist of the Israel Philharmonic.[4][11][12] He has a home in Migdal, Israel, near Lake Kinneret.[13][14] He has also played in a number of events commemorating the Holocaust.[4]

In 1997, Vengerov became the first classical musician to be appointed an International Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF,[15] performing for children in Uganda, Thailand, and Kosovo. Playing by Heart, an American television production on NBC about the violinist’s meetings with young musicians during his master classes, was screened at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. He later took a two-year course in Baroque violin performance practice and repertoire.[16] In 2005 he injured his right shoulder in a weightlifting accident, but while he then scaled back on his playing violin, he used the time to develop his interest and skill in conducting.[9][17] He later had surgery on the shoulder, and a year of rehabilitation.[17]

In 2010, he was appointed the first chief conductor of the Menuhin Festival Gstaad Orchestra. He continued his conducting studies with Yuri Simonov, and graduated with a diploma of excellence from the Ippolitov-Ivanov State Musical Pedagogical Institute in June 2014. Vengerov then enrolled in a further two-year program of opera conducting. Vengerov's work with contemporary composers has included premiering the violin concerto La Joie de la souffrance by Qigang Chen.[18]

While playing the end of the fourth movement of Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra at Barbican Hall in London, with Mstislav Rostropovich conducting, he broke a string.[5] To continue seamlessly, he started singing, as he moved to grab the concertmaster's violin.[5]

During 2019–20, he was artist-in-residence with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.[19] Currently he is Ambassador and Visiting Professor at the Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland (IMMA) and Polonsky Visiting Professor of Violin at the Royal College of Music, London.[20] Aside from teaching, Vengerov has also served on numerous competition juries, including the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists, and also as chairman of the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 2011 and 2016. In May 2013, he conducted the finals of the Montreal International Violin Competition.

Awards and honours[edit]


  • 1984: winner of the International Karol Lipiński and Henryk Wieniawski Young Violin Player Competition
  • 1990: winner of the International Carl Flesch Competition, London
  • 1994, 1995: two

Gramophone Classical Music Awards

Fellowships and honors[edit]



Vengerov currently performs on the late period 1727 "ex-Kreutzer" Stradivarius violin made just after the "Golden Period" of Stradivarius violins, which was previously owned by the Frenchman Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766–1831) for whom Beethoven's 9th Violin Sonata was named.[21] Vengerov purchased the violin with aid from patroness Japanese Countess Yoko Nagae Ceschina, and bought at Christie's auction house on 1 April 1998, with the assistance of violin dealer Haim Lazarov, on behalf of Vengerov for £947,500.[22]

Personal life[edit]

In November 2011, Vengerov married Olga Gringolts, sister of the violinist Ilya Gringolts and an art historian. The couple has two daughters and one son.[23] The family resides in Monaco.[22]


  1. ^ Verghis, Sharon (28 November 2015). "Violinist Maxim Vengerov joins the QSO with Stradivarius". The Australian. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Adrian Hamilton (22 January 2005). "Maxim Vengerov: The showman". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  3. ^ Classic FM. "Maxim Vengerov: Facts".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "From prodigy to superstar; Virtuoso violinist Maxim Vengerov puts his success down to his upbringing as a Jewish boy in the heart of Russia.. With celebrations of his 40 years as a performer on ice, he talked to Jessica Duchen about his career," The Jewish Chronicle.
  5. ^ a b c Todd Brewster (2011). 21st Century Violinists, Vol. 1.
  6. ^ a b c d "Maxim Vengerov at 40: Ten facts about the great violinist". Classic FM.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Maximum music". The Irish Times.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "JLNotes 2013 March-April [PDF]".
  9. ^ a b c "Maxim Vengerov Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic.
  10. ^ a b c Steinberg, Jessica. "Violinist Vengerov says his heart and soul belong in Israel". Times of Israel.
  11. ^ "Grapevine October 6, 2019: NIF at 40". The Jerusalem Post.
  12. ^ "About Us". Musicians of Tomorrow.
  13. ^ Gelder, Compiled by Lawrence Van (7 April 2008). "Violinist Takes a Break". The New York Times.
  14. ^ "Doing double duty". The Jerusalem Post.
  15. ^ "Maxim Vengerov". Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Maxim Vengerov (Violin, Viola, Conductor) - Short Biography".
  17. ^ a b " Interview with Maxim Vengerov: Conducting, Competitions, and Returning to the Violin".
  18. ^ Chen Nan (23 October 2017). "For the sake of art". China Daily. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Armenian State Symphony Orchestra". Barbican Centre. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Violinist Maxim Vengerov appointed visiting professor at London's Royal College of Music". The Strad. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  21. ^ Andrew Clark (30 November 2012). "Lunch with the FT: Maxim Vengerov". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  22. ^ a b Jessica Duchen (3 November 2015). "Editor's Lunch: Vengerov Takes It To The Max". Amati Magazine. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  23. ^ Adam Sweeting (16 November 2013). "Maxim Vengerov: new and turbo-charged". Telegraph. Retrieved 17 June 2018.

External links[edit]