Nigel Kennedy, Violonist


Nigel Kennedy Vivaldi The 4 Seasons


Nigel Kennedy performing J.S. Bach's A minor violin concerto

Nigel Kennedy, Biography

Since the late 80th, Nigel Kennedy (England, born 28 December 1956), has been acknowledged as one of the world's leading violin virtuosos and is, without doubt, one of the most important violinists Britain has ever produced.

One of his most unique achievement is that he made classical music popular. He is the best-selling classical violinist of all time. Nigel Kennedy sold over 2 million copies of his recording of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi with the English Chamber Orchestra in 1989. With this, he made The Four Seasons to one of the best-selling classical works ever. He is playing and at the same time conducting it with his fascinating virtuoso technique, unique talent and mass appeal. In other performances he introduces improvisatory elements, like in his Jimi Hendrix-inspired cadenza to the Beethoven Violin Concerto. He also performs Jazz and his own compositions. He is a perfectionist which is sometimes seen as being arrogant.

Questioned about his outfit, Kennedy says that he plays works of dead composers but he doesn't like to look like he would still attend their funeral. He cherishes his reputation of being wayward or even extravagant with his very own style of hair and clothes and his working class London accent. Critics say that he is imitating the Cockney accent because he did not speak it as child when he was interviewed in 1964. Also, genuine Cockney speakers would use non-standard grammatical forms while he obviously uses standard forms.

Nigel Kennedy was born in Brighton, East Sussex. With 7 years, he got the very first scholarship that was ever awarded at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music in London. Later, he studied at the Juilliard School in New York. When not touring, Kennedy spends his time either with his son Sark who lives with his first wife in Worcestershire or with his Polish second wife in London and Krakow.

In his book Always Playing, Kennedy wrote 1992 cool and down-to-earth about his life and influences, his opinions and attitudes.  

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Photo by: "Nigel Kennedy 2009" by welovethesky - Nigel Kennedy, Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2009-05-04_201405. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons