The american violinist, the son of Portuguese immigrants, Elmar Oliveira, was 9e when he began studying the violin with his brother John. He later continued his studies with Ariana Bronne and Raphael Bronstein at the Hartt College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music (class of 1972). With first prizes at the Naumburg International (1975) and G.B. Dealey Competitions early in his career, Oliveira seemed poised for a promising career. In 1978 he more than fulfilled that promise when he captured the Gold Medal in violin performance (with Latvian Ilya Grubert) at the Sixth Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. Being the the only American violinist to win this Gold Medal, the victory for Oliveira was reminiscent of Van Cliburn's 20 years earlier. Oliveira was also the first violinist to receive the coveted Avery Fisher Prize (1983).
Prestigious concerts and recording opportunities followed quickly, as well as numerous offers to appear on television. For a time Elmar Oliveira was nearly the celebrity Cliburn was. But like Cliburn, the young violinist found that the limelight faded rather quickly. Still, since that triumph in Moscow, Oliveira has remained active, achieving consistent success in his appearances. He has become a familiar and much-admired figure at the world's foremost concert venues. His rigorous international itinerary includes appearances with many of the world's great orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Zürich Tonhalle, to name a few. He has also made extensive recital tours of North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. His 2006 concert schedule included appearances in May with the Utah Symphony Orchestra in the Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, and in Kiev in June with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in the Flagello’s Violin Concerto.
Unsurpassed in his combination of elegance and impeccable artistry, Elmar Oliveira is one of the most distinguished violinists in the world today. His commitment to a wide spectrum of the violin world manifests itself in numerous ways, such as consistently expanding repertoire boundaries as a champion of both contemporary music and rarely-heard works of the past, devoting considerable energy to the development of younger artists, and enthusiastically supporting the efforts and art of modern violin makers. His repertoire is among the most diverse of any of today's preeminent artists. Hailed for his performances of the standard violin literature, he is also a much sought-after interpreter of the music of our time. He has premiered works by such distinguished composers as Morton Gould, Aaron Kernis, Ezra Laderman, Benjamin Lees, Andrzej Panufnik, Krysztof Penderecki, Joan Tower and Charles Wuorinen. He has also performed seldom-heard concerti by Alberto Ginastera, Joseph Joachim and Einoujuhani Rautavaara, among others.
A prodigious recording artist, Elmar Oliveira's discography on Artek, Angel, Sony Masterworks, Vox, Delos, IMP, Naxos, Ondine, and Melodiya covers a wide range of works from the Baroque period (J.S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi) to contemporary composers. His best-selling 1997 recording of the E. Rautavaara’s Violin Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic (Ondine) won a Cannes Classical Award and has appeared on Gramophone's “Editor's Choice” and other “Best Recordings” lists around the world. He was also a Grammy nominee for his 1990 CD recording of the Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (EMI). His 2006 release on Artek of Prokofiev's Violin Sonatas and Five Melodies was his second recording of the works - the first, on Vox Allegretto, dated to 1991. This later effort demonstrated his continued command of these challenging works.
Other recording highlights include the Johannes Brahms Concerto and Camille Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 3 with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Artek), violin sonatas of Ottorino Respighi and Pizzeti (Artek), Favorite Encores with pianist Robert Koenig (Artek), the complete J. Brahms sonatas with pianist Jorge Federico Osorio (Artek), the Joachim Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (IMP), and the Tower Concerto (composed for him) with the Louisville Orchestra (d'Note Records). Of historical significance are two unique projects: a CD released by Bein & Fushi of Chicago, featuring Oliveira performing on some of the world's greatest violins (fifteen Stradivaris and fifteen Guarneris del Gesus), and a CD of short pieces highlighting the Library of Congress's collection of rare violins. In addition, he has made numerous television appearances on popular programs like the Today Show, Good Morning America, and CBS Sunday Morning.
Elmar Oliveira received an honorary doctorate from Manhattan School of Music. Other honors include an honorary doctorate from Binghamton University and the Order of Santiago, Portugal's highest civilian honor. He has served on the juries of numerous violin competitions including the Montreal, Indianapolis, Naumburg, and Vianna da Motta. Oliveira is a Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida. He performs on a 1729/30 Guarneri del Gesu called the “Stretton,” and on several outstanding contemporary violins, including Michael