Vladimir Spivakov, an outstanding violinist and conductor, has brightly realized his multi-faceted talent in the music art and in various fields of social life. As violinist, Vladimir Spivakov had passed the brilliant school of Yuri Yankelevich, a famous professor of the Moscow Conservatory. Not less was the impact of his second teacher and 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).
In 1975 following his triumphal recitals in the USA, Vladimir Spivakov started his brilliant international career. He performed as soloist with the most important symphonic orchestras in the world, including philharmonic orchestras of Moscow, Leningrad, Berlin, Vienna, London and New York, symphonic orchestras of Paris, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburg and Cleveland under the baton of the most eminent conductors of the 20th century, such as E. Mravinsky, E. Svetlanov, K. Kondrashin, Y. Temirkanov, M. Rostropovich, L. Bernstein, S. Ozawa, L. Maazel, C. M. Giulini, R. Muti and C. 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 love for nuance, the emotional impact onto the audience, his refined artistry and intelligence.
Until 1997 Vladimir Spivakov had played a violin of Francesco Gobetti, a present from Professor Yankelevich. Since 1997 he plays a Stradivari which was given to him for life ownership by his admirers.
In 1979 Vladimir Spivakov together with some of his colleagues who shared his flavour for chamber music formed a new chamber orchestra named «Moscow Virtuosi» and has been its artistic director, conductor and soloist ever since. He studied conducting with Professor Israel Gusman in Russia as well as with great Leonard Bernstein and Lorin Maazel in the USA. Leonard Bernstein presented him with his own conducting stick as the sign of his sympathy and belief into his conducting future. Vladimir Spivakov never parts with the precious gift.
As chamber and symphony orchestra conductor, Vladimir Spivakov has appeared in the world’s most important concert venues and conducted European and American orchestras, such as symphony orchestras of London, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Budapest, La Scala Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Academia «Santa Cecilia», the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, the French Radio Orchestra and best Russian orchestras.
He has recorded extensively both as soloist and conductor, and his over 40 compact discs reflect different music styles and periods from European baroque music to the works of the 20th century’s composers: Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Penderecki, Schnittke, Pyart, Kancheli, Shchedrin and Gubaydulina, mostly recorded with the BMG Classics.
Vladimir Spivakov was the founder of the International Colmar Music Festival (France) in 1989, and has been its artistic director ever since. Many prominent musical groups and collectives have appeared at the Festival during the 16 years of its existence, a considerable part of them being the best Russian orchestras and choruses as well as great world-known artists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Yehudi Menuhin, Evgeny Svetlanov, Krzysztof Penderecki, Jose van Dam, Jessye Norman, Robert Hall, Thomas Quasthoff, Kristian Zimmermann, Michel Plasson, Evgeny Kissin, Vadim Repin, Nikolay Lugansky, Vladimir Kraynev, Sergey Leiferkus.
He has taken part as a jury member in many well-known international competitions since 1989 (e.g., in Paris, Genoa, London, Montreal); he is President of the Sarasate Violin Contest in Spain. In 2002 he presided over the Jury of the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in Moscow. Vladimir Spivakov followed Nathan Milstein in leading the very prestigious annual violin master classes in Zurich in 1994.
For many years Vladimir Spivakov has been involved in humanitarian and charity activities. Together with the «Moscow Virtuosi» Chamber Orchestra he performed in Armenia soon after the horrible earthquake of 1988 and in Ukraine 3 days after the Chernobyl disaster, gave hundreds of charity concerts throughout the territory of the former Soviet Union.
In 1994 he founded the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation aimed at humanitarian, artistic and educational targets, such as improving life standards for orphans and disabled children, as well as creating conditions for creative development of young talents, i.e. providing musical instruments, allocating scholarships and grants, attracting the most talented musicians, children and teenagers, to «Moscow Virtuosi» performances and at the Colmar Music Festival, organizing international art exhibitions for young artists, etc. Through the years of its existence the Foundation has furnished tangible assistance to hundreds of children and young talents.
In 1999—2002 Vladimir Spivakov had been Principal Conductor of the Russian National Orchestra, whereas since 2003 he is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Philharmonic of Russia and President of the Moscow Performing Arts Centre.
Vladimir Spivakov was awarded the honorary title of the People’s Artist of the USSR (1989), the State Prize of the USSR (1989) and the Order of Peoples’ Friendship (1993). The Russian Space Center gave the name of Spivakov to one of small planets on the occasion of his 50th birthday.
In 1996 Vladimir Spivakov was awarded the Order for Merits of Grade III (Ukraine). In 1999 he was decorated with high state awards in several countries such as l’Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Letters (France), the St. Mesrop Mashtots Order (Armenia), the Order for Services To Fatherland, Grade III (Russia). In 2000 he received Legion of Honor from the President of France. In 2002 he was elected an Honorary Doctor of the Moscow Lomonosov University, while in May 2005, together with Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Leonid Roshal, he was chosen the Russian of the Year in the «Russia Without Borders» nomination.