Nicola Benedetti

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Nicola Benedetti
Nicola Benedetti at the Royal Albert Hall
Nicola Benedetti at the Royal Albert Hall
Background information
Born (1987-07-20) 20 July 1987 (age 33)
Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland
Years active2005–present
LabelsDeutsche Grammophon
Universal Classics and Jazz
Decca Records

Nicola Joy Nadia Benedetti CBE (born 20 July 1987) is a Scottish- Italian classical solo violinist. Her ability was recognised as a child including the award of BBC Young Musician of the Year when she was 16 and also many other awards. She works with orchestras in Europe and America as well as Alexei Grynyuk, her regular pianist. Since 2012 she has played the Gariel Stradivarius violin.

Early life and education[edit]

Benedetti was born in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, Scotland, to an Italian father and an Italian-Scottish mother.[1] She started to play the violin at the age of four with lessons from Brenda Smith.[2] At age eight, she became the leader of the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain.[3] By the age of nine, she had already passed the eight grades of musical examinations while attending the independent Wellington School, Ayr,[4] and, in September 1997, began to study at the Yehudi Menuhin School for young musicians under Baron Menuhin and Natasha Boyarskaya in rural Surrey, England.[5]

At the end of her first year (1998), she played solo in the school's annual concert at Wigmore Hall, and performed in London and Paris as a soloist in Bach's Double Violin Concerto with Alina Ibragimova. She played in a memorial concert at Westminster Abbey celebrating the life and work of Yehudi Menuhin.

Nicola has an older sister, Stephanie, who is also a violinist and a member of the pop group Clean Bandit.

Early public performances[edit]

In 1999, Benedetti performed for the anniversary celebrations at Holyrood Palace with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in the presence of The Prince Edward.

In 2000, Benedetti performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Opera.

She played to the Prince again in 2001 when she performed a concerto with the London Mozart Players at St. James's Palace. Subsequent performances followed with the City of London Sinfonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, etc.[6]

In August 2002, she won the UK's Brilliant Prodigy Competition, broadcast by Carlton Television. She left the Menuhin School shortly after and, at the age of 15, began studying privately with Maciej Rakowski, the former leader of the English Chamber Orchestra.[7]

In spring 2003, Benedetti, invited as a soloist by the London Symphony Orchestra, participated in the recording of the DVD titled Barbie of Swan Lake at Abbey Road Studios. In October 2003, as the extra feature on this DVD, "Playing With Passion" was filmed and released by Mattel. BBC Scotland, using this DVD, created a documentary on Benedetti, which was broadcast on television in the UK in March 2004.

BBC Young Musician of the Year[edit]

In May 2004, at the age of 16, Benedetti won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, performing Karol Szymanowski's First Violin Concerto in the final at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.[6][8] As a result of gaining the award, she came first in the music section of the Top Scot award in December 2005.[9] Despite winning the competition, The Times reported that Benedetti was snubbed by Jack McConnell, the then First Minister of Scotland, who thought that there was insufficient public interest to merit a personal message of congratulations.[10] Following a public and political outcry, McConnell telephoned Benedetti to acknowledge her success.[11]

Since 2012[edit]

In September 2012, she performed at the Last Night of the Proms, playing Violin Concerto No. 1 by Max Bruch.[12] That same year, Benedetti was loaned the 1717 "Gariel" Stradivarius by London banker and London Symphony Orchestra Board member Jonathan Moulds.[13]

Apart from solo performances, Benedetti performs in a trio with the German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and the Russian pianist Alexei Grynyuk.[14]


Benedetti was awarded honorary doctorates from Glasgow Caledonian University in November 2007 and from Heriot-Watt University in 2010,[15] and honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh in November 2011.[16] She was awarded an honorary degree from the University of York[17] in August 2020.

She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year's Honours "For services to Music and to charity",[18] and was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in March 2017.[19] In 2015, she was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women.[20]

In May 2017, she was presented with the Queen's Medal for Music, the youngest of the twelve people to receive the award since it was established in 2005.[21]

She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours, "For services to Music".[22] In 2019 she was also given the annual Royal Medal award by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for improving the lives of deprived Scottish children through Sistema Scotland and the Big Noise Orchestras.[23]

In 2020, she won the Grammy for best classical instrumental solo for Marsalis: Violin Concerto; Fiddle Dance Suite.[24]



Title Details Peak chart positions
UK UK Classical
Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1 1[25]
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
  • Released: 15 May 2006
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Vaughan Williams and Tavener
  • Released: 7 September 2009
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Tchaikovsky & Bruch: Violin Concertos
  • Released: 8 October 2010
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
  • Released: 20 February 2011
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
The Silver Violin
  • Released: 24 August 2012
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
My First Decade
  • Released: 20 September 2013
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Homecoming – A Scottish Fantasy
  • Released: 4 July 2014
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
19 1
Marsalis: Violin Concerto; Fiddle Dance Suite
  • Released: 12 July 2019 [28]
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Elgar Violin Concerto
  • Released: 7 August 2020
  • Label: Decca Records
  • Formats: Digital download, CD


  1. ^ "Nicola Benedetti". Scotland is the Place. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  2. ^ "Meet the woman who turned a tearful schoolgirl into a superstar". The Scotsman. 30 January 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ Nicola Benedetti, interviewed during BBC Radio 3 broadcast of 2012 BBC Proms (5 August 2012)
  4. ^ "Violinist Nicola Benedetti Named BBC Young Musician of the Year". Classical Source. 5 May 2004. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Featured Content on Myspace". Myspace. Archived from the original on 10 May 2007.
  6. ^ a b "2004 Nicola Benedetti - Violin". BBC Young Musician of the Year. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006.
  7. ^ Jessica Werb. "Benedetti makes music, not stardom, priority". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Violinist, 16, wins musical title". BBC News. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Rankin the toast of Scotland as fans sing his praises". Living Scotsman. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  10. ^ Macleod, Angus (5 May 2004). "McConnell hits wrong note over award". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  11. ^ Macleod, Angus (6 May 2004). "McConnell bows to pressure over young musician". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Prom 76: Last Night of the Proms – review". The Guardian. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  13. ^ Razaq, Rashid (13 March 2012). "Banker lent me £6.3m Stradivarius after he heard me playing". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  14. ^ "BBC Radio Three Lunchtime Concert". London Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Honorary Graduates 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Violinist Nicola Benedetti debuts in Rome". Italian Journal. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Nicola Benedetti - Studying at York, University of York". 26 August 2020. Archived from the original on 26 August 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  18. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 28 December 2012. p. 15.
    - "Violinist Nicola Benedetti receives Order of the British Empire". Classic FM. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  19. ^ "RSE Welcomes 60 New Fellows" (Press release). Royal Society of Edinburgh. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  20. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2015: Who is on the list?". BBC News. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  21. ^ Davis, Lizzie (23 May 2017). "Nicola Benedetti awarded Queen's Medal for Music". Classic FM. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  22. ^ "No. 62507". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 29 December 2018. p. N1.
  23. ^ "Royal Medals". Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Benedetti wins best solo award at Grammys". BBC News. 27 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Violinist Benedetti, 18, to perform in La Jolla". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  26. ^ Will Pavia (3 April 2007). "Sting adds another string to his bow as Sir Paul takes a bold stride into the world of classics". The Times. Archived from the original on 6 April 2007.
  27. ^ "Nicola Hits The Top Spot With New Album". Daily Record. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  28. ^ "Nicola Benedetti Announces New Album With Wynton Marsalis". uDiscover Music. Retrieved 24 July 2019.

External links[edit]