Nikolaj Znaider (born 5 July 1975 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a Danish-Israeli classical violinist and conductor.
Biography and career
Znaider was born in Copenhagen to Polish-Jewish parents. His father had originally emigrated to Israel from Poland, and his mother's family had settled in Denmark before World War II. He studied with the eminent Russian pedagogue Boris Kuschnir and drawing on this eclectic background his playing has been heralded in The Strad magazine as "extraordinarily intelligent, soulful and impassioned, yet without a hint of indulgence" and the Chicago Tribune said "Perhaps not since the young Gidon Kremer burst upon the violin world in 1970 has a violinist caused quite the stir of Nikolaj Znaider."
In June 1992 at the age of 16 he won the first prize of the 4th International Carl Nielsen Violin Competition, and in 1997 he received one of the most respected and recognized prizes in the violin world: the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels. He went on to study with the pedagogue Dorothy Delay at Juilliard School of Music.
He plays the Guarneri “del Gesu” violin built in 1741 and previously played by the legendary violinist Fritz Kreisler. The violin is thus known as the "Ex-Kreisler Guarnerius," and is on loan to Znaider from the The Royal Danish Theater.
Znaider has also taken up conducting - in October 2010 he began his tenure as conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra - and has also recorded chamber music with such musicians as Daniel Barenboim, with whom he recorded the Mozart piano trios, along with cellist Kyril Zlotnikov of the Jerusalem Quartet.
Znaider is passionate about the education of musical talent and is Founder and Artistic Director of the Nordic Music Academy, an annual summer school whose vision is to create conscious and focused musical development based on quality and commitment.
Znaider's most recent recordings include the Brahms and Korngold violin concertos, recorded live in Vienna's Musikvereinssaal with the Vienna Philharmonic led by Valery Gergiev, and released in the USA in February 2009.