LSO International Violin Festival: Meet Nikolaj Znaider

The LSO International Violin Festival reaches its halfway point on 12 May with a performance of one of the peaks of the violin repertoire. We find out more about soloist Nikolaj Znaider and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in this blog.

Nikolaj Znaider

The Danish-born musician Nikolaj Znaider initially made his name as a  violinist when he won First Prize in the 1992 Carl Nielsen Violin Competition at just 16-years-old; as his career sky-rocketed on from there he picked up comparisons to legendary violinists Jascha Heifezt and Fritz Kreisler. He is one of the foremost violinists of today and combines his career as a soloist at the very highest level with a growing conducting career.

LSO History

Nikolaj Znaider made his LSO debut in 2006 with Syzmanowski's Violin Concerto No 1 under Francois-Xavier Roth; he made his conducting debut with the orchestra in 2011. Since then he has become one of the most popular artists with audiences and players alike: 'They are such generous musicians,' he says. 'It is very much about all of us on stage sharing our passion for the music we are performing.'

The Concerto

Znaider joins the LSO for one of the peaks of the violin repertoire on 12 May, Tchaikovsky's soaring, lyrical Concerto. Znaider says: 'It's such a seductive piece, you have to play it. It's so well written - it's so effective, it's so well done, it's so beautiful. Physically, it's one of the hardest pieces to play - it's a great workout!' Hear more of this thoughts on the work in this discussion with LSO First Violin Maxine Kwok-Adams.


The Violin

Nikolaj Znaider’s violin is the ‘Kreisler’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ made in 1741, which he has been playing for almost eight years. The violin was famously played by Fritz Kreisler in all of his concerts and recordings between 1904 and 1919. Kreisler gave the first performance of Elgar’s Violin Concerto on the violin in 1910. A century later, Znaider celebrated the work’s centenary with a global tour, culminating in a concert with the LSO on the anniversary day, in which he played the Concerto on the very same instrument.

Nikolaj Znaider told The Strad: ‘I love this violin for its unique voice, its variety of colours and power. I can trust that it will always be heard. Of course, anything worthwhile isn’t simple – the instrument goes through phases when it’s more moody and you have to know the right way to caress it, but volume is so important and I don’t want to have to worry about that.’


Some excerpts originally printed in The Strad and re-printed with permission

Nikolaj Znaider appears in the LSO International Violin Festival at the Barbican on Tuesday 12 May, performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.

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We'll be getting to know the stars of Violin Festival on the LSO blog throughout the Festival, so keep checking back to read our latest interviews and behind-the-scenes stories.