Maxim Alexandrovich Vengerov (born August 20, 1974) is a violinist, violist, and conductor who was born in the Soviet Union.
Vengerov was born on 20 August 1974 in Novosibirsk, Russia, to a Jewish family with musical tradition. At the age of 5, he began studying the violin with Borbala Hwang, and two years later – with Zakhar Bron. He 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…"). 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.
In 1990, Vengerov proved his extraordinary talent with victory at the International Carl Flesch Competition in London. At the time, he had already studied with Z. Bron in London and Lübeck. 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. Numerous recording prizes and “Artist of the Year” titles (incl. one from Gramophone) followed, as did the celebrated Grammy Award, Edison Award (for the recording of Shostakovich Second Concerto), and the highly prestigious “Echo Klassik” annual distinction awarded to him by the German Television in 2003 (for recital feat. compositions by J. S. Bach).
In 1997, he became UNICEF’s Envoy for Music and has met and performed for children in such places, as Uganda, Thailand or Kosovo. “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. Contacts with Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Barenboim or Vag Papian, as well as performances with the world’s most famous orchestras, like the Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic or the Chicago Symphony, exerted profound influence upon Maxim 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. However, he does not restrict himself to the violin alone; the viola, jazz improvisation, dance, and conducting have caught his attention. Since the earliest stages of his career, he has been playing various Stradivari instruments; at present, it is the 1727 “Ex-Kreutzer”.
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, 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 gave a recital at Wigmore Hall in London, which was to be his comeback recital in London.
Recently, the artist 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 Andrzej 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 November 2011, he married Olga Gringolts, sister of the violinist Ilya Gringolts. In October 2012, after his recital with a pianist Vag Papian at Adam Mickiewicz University Auditorium in Poznań, Maxim Vengerov signed a contract appointing him the Chairman of Jury of 15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 2016.