The French pianist and conductor of Russian origin, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, began his violin training at the Conservatoire of Nice. From the age of 13, he pursued his studies the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included René Benedetti and where he obtained the Premier Prix for violin playing in 1960 and for chamber music in 1963. Between 1962 and 1968 he won ten major international prizes, including first prizes at the Carl Flesch Competition in London (1962), Paganini Competition in Genoa, Geneva International Violin Competition (1965), as well as prizes at the Queen Elisaberh Competition in Brussels, Sibelius Competion in Helsinki, and Montreal Violin Competition..
Jean-Jacques Kantorow began his career as an orchestral player, but soon emerged as a solo artist and chamber music player. Since the 1970’s he has been noted for his solo performances in a very wide range of repertoire from Baroque music to contemporary. He has appeared in all leading international centres, in Europe and in the USA, Canada, India, the Far East and Africa, winning critical acclaim. He has collaborated with musicians including Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Paul Tortelier, Krystian Zimerman, János Starker, Maria-João Pires, Gidon Kremer, Edith Wiens, and Renée Fleming. According to Grove Music Online, 'Kantorow has an infallible technique and a beauty of tone which combines the best features of the French and Russian schools.' He plays a Stradivarius violin, the ‘ex-Leopold Auer’, dated 1699.
His musical interests have led him towards orchestral and operatic repertoire. In the 1980’s Jean-Jacques Kantorow began a separate career as conductor, becoming Principal Conductor of the Orchestre de l’Auvergne in 1985 and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris in 1993. From 1993 to 2000 he was Artistic Director of the Tapiola Sinfonietta of Finland with whom he continues to collaborate. He is presently Musical Director of the City of Granada Orchestra and is, with Ton Koopman, Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. He has longstanding conducting engagements with other European orchestras, including the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Helsinki Chamber Orchestra. He has made guest appearances with ensembles including the Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestre de Bretagne, Orchestre de Lyon, Hallé Orchestra and Bamberger Symphoniker.
Jean-Jacques Kantorow held senior positions at the Strasbourg and Rotterdam conservatories and at the Conservatoire de Paris, until his retirement from conservatoire violin pedagogy. He continues to teach privately and to give master-classes. Among his pupils Gordan Nikolitch.
Jean-Jacques Kantorow has made more than 130 recordings with major record labels, includin Denon, BIS, Virgin/EMI, Erato, Ondine, Harmonia Mundi, Arion and Naxos. His recordings have won many awards, including the Grand Prix du Disque and the Grand Prix de l’Académie Franz Liszt.