The Rusian born is a violinist, violist, conductor, and music pedagogue, Maxim Alexandrovich Vengerov, was born to a Jewish family with musical tradition and took to violin naturally. His mother was the conductor of a 500-voice choir. As a four-year-old he began practice after dinner and kept going until he was too tired, then went outside and rode his tricycle to wind down, usually by 3 a.m. His father decided to find the best available teacher, and took him, without appointment, to Galina Turchaninova who, oddly, greeted them by saying, "Oh, I've been expecting you." She took him as a student. Before the first lesson Turchaninova realized a case of mistaken identity had occurred: she thought Maxim was a boy the director of the Conservatory had sent over, who never showed up. Turchaninova was a very strict teacher, and the boy at one point refused to play a note for five straight lessons. She called Maxim's mother in to inform her she was dismissing him as her student. When his mother broke down in tears, Maxim realized he had done wrong, picked up his violin, and played 17 assigned pieces from memory; he had been practicing them even though he had not been playing them. "Very well," said Turchaninova, and agreed to continue his lessons. "A violinist like Maxim is born only once in a hundred years."
When Maxim Vengero was 7 the government gave permission for the family to move to Moscow where he could be enrolled in the State's top school for talented musical children. His technique was fully polished before he was 10; from them on he needed only to study musical and interpretive issues. He studied with Zakhar Bron, another great teacher, and practiced seven hours a day. 1984 saw the 10-year-old Maxim go abroad for the first time; in Lublin, Poland, he won the first place at the International Karol Lipiński and Henryk Wieniawski Young Violin Player Competition (years later, he recalled, "I thought Poland was somewhere at the end of the world. One does not forget such trips; no wonder I always remember Poland very fondly…"). He immediately had concert engagements in Russia and even with western European orchestras such as the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. His Moscow debut was in 1985. When Bron left Russia in 1987 to teach at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London, Vengerov and his mother followed him there, and did so again after Bron moved to Lübeck to open a school there. Vengerov first appeared in Germany in 1987, and in London in 1989. He won the prestigious Carl Flesch Competition (named after one of the great violin pedagogues) in 1990, and first appeared in New York with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1991. In 1990, Vengerov proved his extraordinary talent with victory at the International Carl Flesch Competition in London.
Widely regarded as one of the world's most dynamic artists, Maxim Vengerov has performed sold out concerts with the world's most eminent orchestras in every major city in the world. Steeped in the celebrated Russian tradition of music making, He enjoys international acclaim as a musician of the highest order, tireless in his search for new means of creative expression. In an age where bright, attractive, and talented young violinists seem to emerge as often as new hybrid roses, Vengerov is a remarkable standout. His public appearances - both solo and with orchestras - at major European music venues sparked interest of major record labels (to date, he has recorded close to 100 compositions or cycles) and music magazines.
In 1995, Maxim Vengerov released his recordings of the Dmitri Shostakovich and Prokofiev First Violin Concertos on the Teldec label. This disc was Best Concerto Recording and Best Record of the Year in the Gramophone Awards, was nominated for two Grammy Awards, and represented an early collaboration with his favorite conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich. He has followed that success with many other recordings, including sequel to his prize winning release, the Second Violin Concertos of D. Shostakovich and Prokofiev, which won the equally prestigious Edison Award in 1997. He has also won awards as Gramophone Young Artist of the Year and the Ritmo Artist of the Year in Spain. The highly prestigious “Echo Klassik” annual distinction awarded to him by the German Television in 2003 (for recital featuring compositions by J.S. Bach).
Maxim Vengerov was named in 1997 as the Envoy for Music of the United Nations' Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the first classical musician to be so appointed, and has met and performed for children in such places, as Uganda, Thailand or Kosovo, and helped raise funds for UNICEF assisted programs. Playing by Heart, a Channel 4 production about the virtuoso’s meetings with young musicians during his master classes, which was shown at the Cannes Festival in 1999, enjoyed tremendous popularity throughout the world. In 1997, he was asked by conductor Kurt Masur to play the season's opening concert of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Contacts with Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Barenboim or Vag Papian, as well as performances with the world’s most famous orchestras, like the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, exerted profound influence upon Vengerov’s artistic progress and development of his musical skills. The artist took a two-year course in the Baroque violin and repertoire of the epoch, and has played Baroque violin in recitals with harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock.. However, he does not restrict himself to the violin alone; the viola, jazz improvisation, dance, and conducting have caught his attention.
In May 2000, after a ten-year exclusive contract with Teldec, Maxim Vengerov signed with EMI, receiving many prestigious awards and nominations including Grammy Award and Gramophone Artist of the Year. He released on EMI Rodion Shchedrin's Concerto Cantabile (which was written for him) with Rostropovich conducting. Vengerov was an Edison Award winner and Grammy Award winner in 2004 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with Orchestra) for the Benjamin Britten: Violin Concerto/William Walton: Viola Concerto Album released on EMI Classics. He toured the Far East and Europe until the end of 2004 with a new programme of Virtuosi pieces, a programme which was also recorded and released by EMI. Since 2005, Maxim Vengerov has been Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. During a sabbatical year in 2007, Vengerov was the subject of the film Living the Dream, directed by Ken Howard, for ITV's South Bank Show, in which he revisited his birthplace in Novosibirsk and played viola and danced tango with Christiane Palha for the premiere of Benjamin Yusupov's Concerto for Viola. Living the Dream was also issued as an EMI DVD which won the BBC Music Magazine Award for Best DVD documentary 2008.
From 2008 to 2012, Maxim Vengorov performed only infrequently in public on violin, having suffered an exercise injury that affected his playing. During that time, he devoted himself extensively to conducting. In March 2012, he gave his first performance in London in four years, replacing an indisposed Martha Argerich at a concert with Yuri Temirkanov and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In April 2012 he gava recital at Wigmore Hall in London, which was to be his comeback recital in London.
Recently, Maxim Vengerov has also renewed and consolidated his ties with Poland. He has been performing with the Sinfonia Varsovia, the Sinfonietta Cracovia and the Polish Baltic Philharmonic. In October 2006, his concert with the Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Andrey Boreyko closed the 13th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań. In October 2011 he was the chairman of the jury at the 14th edition of the competition. In October 2012, after his recital with a pianist Vag Papian at Adam Mickiewicz University Auditorium in Poznań, Vengerov signed a contract appointing him the Chairman of Jury of 15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 2016. He regularly serves on other juries, most recently at the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition and the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition.
Having reached the pinnacle of the musical world as an instrumentalist, Vengerov followed in the footsteps of his mentor, the late Mstislav Rostropovich and turned his attention to conducting, bringing his sensitivity and keen musicianship to the podium. He took his first conducting classes from Professor Vag Papian, who himself studied with the legendary Ilya Musin in St. Petersburg. made his conducting debut with the English Chamber Orchestra. At the invitation of Valery Gergiev, Vengerov has conducted the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, earning accolades both from the critics and the public. Over the past few seasons, he has developed close relationships with Verbier Festival Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, Sinfonietta Cracovia, et al. Vengerov's Carnegie Hall debut as a conductor, which took place during the 2007 Verbier Festival Orchestra tour of North America, received critical acclaim. "The musicians responded magnetically to him", wrote Vivien Schweitzer of The New York Times. In September 2008 he was invited by the BBC to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra and be a member of the jury in the Maestro Series, a programme designed to give general public an insight into the fascinating profession of a conductor.
Hungry for experience that lies outside a standard track record of a musical prodigy, Maxim Vengerov has let himself be inspired by many different styles of music, including Baroque, jazz and rock. He has taken the time to learn how to tango and premiered Benjamin Yusupov's Viola Tango Rock Concerto, exploring the physicality of music and making a powerful statement about the diversity of cultural influences in the 21st century.
Along with Rostropovich and Gergiev, Maxim Vengerov counts Daniel Barenboim among his mentors, not only from the purely musical point of view but also in terms of their commitment to philanthropy, education and talent development. Vengerov enjoys creative partnerships and friendships with some of the most prominent instrumentalists, such as Ida Haendel, Joshua Bell and Alexander Toradze, to name but a few. At the same time, he makes it a point to feature young promising soloists who benefit greatly from his extensive experience and rare generosity. Educational activities such as music forums, lectures and conferences are an integral part of Maxim Vengerov's work. He holds Honorary Professorships from many top conservatories around the world, including the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Since 2007 Maxim Vengerov has been an Ambassador for Zegna & Music project, which was founded by the luxury men's clothing label Ermenegildo Zegna in 1997 as a philanthropic activity to promote classical music. Vengerov is a patron of the MIGDAL Project in Northern Israel designed to give disadvantaged children a chance to learn how to play a musical instrument and to improvise in classical and ethnic styles, harnessing the healing power of music and promoting humanitarian and cultural values. Vengerov also supports the MIAGI Project in South Africa, which connects children of different ethnic backgrounds through music.
There are many exciting projects in store for the next two seasons, including a North American tour (Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, etc), a Russian tour with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, a series of performances with Kammerorchester Basel and a conducting debut with the Jerusalem Symphony. Vengerov will return to the Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He will also make his debut with the Moscow Virtuosi in Moscow and St. Petersburg. His programmes will feature works by Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich.
In November 2011, Maxim Vengerov married Olga Gringolts, sister of the violinist Ilya Gringolts. Since the earliest stages of his career, he has been playing various Stradivari instruments; especially the 1727 "Reynier" Stradivarius, and at present. In 2000, with the aid of Mrs. Yoko Nagae Ceschina was able to purchase the famous "ex-Kreutzer" Stradivarius. He uses Jascha Heifetz's bow. He now makes his home in Israel.