Vladimir Spivakov, well known to orchestras and audiences alike as one of the leading violinists of our time, equally enjoys a multifaceted career as a respected conductor and committed humanitarian. He is artistic director and principal conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia and President of the Moscow International Performing Arts Center since 2003. As a chamber and symphony orchestra conductor, Vladimir Spivakov has appeared in the world's most important concert venues and has conducted European and American orchestras, including the symphony orchestras of London, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Budapest, the La Scala Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of the Accademia "Santa Cecilia", the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as well as all the leading Russian orchestras.
Mr. Spivakov made his United States recital debut in 1975 and international engagements quickly followed. As a violinist, he has performed as soloist with the most important orchestras in the world, including those of Moscow, Leningrad, Berlin, Vienna, London, New York, Paris, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He has collaborated with some of the 20th century's most eminent conductors, including Svetlanov, Kondrashin, Temirkanov, Rostropovich, Bernstein, Leinsdorf, Ozawa, Maazel, Giulini, Masur, Chailly, Conlon and Abbado. Critics of the leading musical countries unanimously appreciate Spivakov's deep insight into composers' intentions, the richness, beauty and volume of his tone, his fine phrasing and nuance, his emotional impact on his audiences, and his refined artistry and intelligence.
In 1979, Vladimir Spivakov, together with some of his colleagues who shared his flair for chamber music, formed a new chamber orchestra named "Moscow Virtuosi". He has been its artistic director, conductor and soloist ever since. Maestro Spivakov studied conducting with Professor Israel Gusman in Russia. He furthered his skills with private lessons from the great Leonard Bernstein in the United States. Leonard Bernstein presented him with his own baton as a sign of his belief in Mr. Spivakov's conducting future. Vladimir Spivakov is never separated from this precious gift.
Mr. Spivakov was the artistic director of the International Colmar Music Festival in France in 1989-2022. Since 2001 Moscow hosts the "Vladimir Spivakov Invites..." Biennial Festival featuring both world stars and promising young musicians. Later on the Festival has been held also in other Russian regions.
Mr. Spivakov has taken part as a jury member in many well-known international competitions since 1989 (e.g. those of Paris, Genoa, London, Montreal); he is president of the Sarasate Violin Contest in Spain. In 2002 and 2007, he presided over the jury of the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in Moscow. In 2009, he became the honorary president of the Yuri Yankelevich International Violin Competition in Omsk; and in 2016, he started the International Violin Competition in Ufa.
Many contemporary composers dedicated their works to Vladimir Spivakov, including Alfred Schnittke, Rodion Shchedrin, Arvo Pärt, Isaak Schwartz, Vyacheslav Artyomov and others.
For Vladimir Spivakov charity work is a philosophy of life; and for many years he has been involved in humanitarian and charitable activities. Together with the "Moscow Virtuosi" Chamber Orchestra Maestro Spivakov performed in Armenia soon after the horrible earthquake of 1988 and in Ukraine three days after the Chernobyl disaster, and has given hundreds of charity concerts throughout the territory of the former Soviet Union. In 1994, Mr. Spivakov founded the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation, devoted to humanitarian, artistic and educational work. Most specifically, the Foundation's mission is to improve living standards for orphans and disabled children and to provide creative conditions, through scholarships and grants, to develop young talents. For over 25 years the Foundation has helped thousands of children and launched many young talents. Moreover, Vladimir Spivakov has supported various charitable initiatives in Europe and Asia, as well as the projects of the Smile Train Foundation in the USA. In 2010, Vladimir Spivakov was honoured with the award of the Government of the Russian Federation in the field of culture for the establishment of the foundation.
The vast discography of Vladimir Spivakov as a soloist and conductor includes more than 50 CDs; the majority of albums were released by BMG Classics, RCA Red Seal and Capriccio. His recordings reflect different musical styles and eras, from the European baroque to the works of 20th century composers including Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Penderecki, Schnittke, Pärt, Kancheli, Shchedrin and Gubaidulina. Many of the discs received prestigious awards, including Diapason D’Or and Choc de la Musique. Since 2014, Maestro Spivakov has released records with the National Philharmonic of Russia under his own label, Spivakov Sound.
Vladimir Spivakov was awarded the honorary titles of the People's Artist of the USSR (1989), Armenia (1989), Ukraine (2001), the Republic of Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria (2013), the Republic of Bashkortostan (2014). Maestro Spivakov was awarded the USSR State Prize (1989), the Order of Peoples' Friendship (1993), all the four grades of the Order for Service to the Fatherland (1999-2019), the Order of Merit III class and the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (Ukraine), the Order of Danaker (Kyrgyzstan) and the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots (Armenia). He was also honoured two highest decorations of France, the Order of Arts and Letters (Officer) and the Legion of Honour (Knight in 2000 and Officer in 2010), and the Italian Order of the Star (Commander, 2012). He received the International Award "Person of the Year 2012", the Order of Merit of the Republic of Bashkortostan, the International Award "Star of Chernobyl" (2013), the Bulgarian "Samara Cross" (2013), the Order of the Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow (2014), the Order of St Nina, the Enlightener of Georgia (2014) and many other decorations and titles.
In 2006, Vladimir Spivakov was named UNESCO Artist for Peace for his "outstanding contribution to the world of art and his activities aimed at peace and dialogue between cultures," and in 2009 he was awarded the UNESCO Mozart Gold Medal. He is the Ambassador of the Arts of the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2012, Vladimir Spivakov was awarded the State Prize of Russia "for outstanding achievements in the field of humanitarian activities" (Prize was awarded in different years, to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the King of Spain Juan Carlos I and French President Jacques Chirac).
Born in Ufa, in the Soviet Republic of Bashkiria, Vladimir Spivakov studied violin with Yuri Yankelevich, the famous professor at the Moscow Conservatory, and later with his idol, David Oistrakh, one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. While still very young, Vladimir Spivakov was awarded high prizes at several important international contests, such as the Marguerite Long – Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris (1965), the Paganini Competition in Genoa (1967), the Montreal International Competition (1969) and the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1970).
Until 1997 Mr. Spivakov played a violin by Francesco Gobetti, which had been a present from Professor Yankelevich. Since 1997 he has been playing a Stradivari.