Russian-born Lydia Mordkovitch has become one of the leading British violinists from the latter half of the 20th century. A David Oistrakh protégée who has lived in England since 1980, she is quite eclectic in her repertory, playing a varied selection of works by composers from J.S. Bach to Maayani, with twentieth century Russian icons like Prokofiev and Shostakovich, as well as their counterparts from England -- Bax, Alwyn, Bliss, Howells, and others -- figuring strongly in her concert programs. She has made well over 20 recordings, mainly for the British label Chandos, and has concertized frequently throughout Europe, Israel, and the United States.
Mordkovitch was born in the south-eastern Russian city of Saratov on April 30, 1944. From 1960 to 1962 she studied music in Odessa at the Stolyarsky School of Music, after which she relocated to Moscow for studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where her most important teacher was David Oistrakh. Eventually she served as his assistant there from 1968 to 1970.
After capturing performance prizes in Kiev (National Young Musicians Competition) and Paris (Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition) in 1967 and 1969, respectively, Mordkovitch launched her career in the Soviet Union, achieving some success. She also taught in Kishinyov at the Institute of Arts during this period (1970-1973).
In 1974 Mordkovitch emigrated to Israel, where she concertized regularly and taught in Jerusalem at the Academy of Music. Following her 1979 U.K. debut (Manchester, with John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra), she found British soil more hospitable. After she relocated to England in 1980 she quickly put her career on the ascent. Mordkovitch's first recordings with Chandos appeared in the mid-'80s: her debut album contained sonatas by Prokofiev, Schumann, and Richard Strauss. She went on to record concertos by Kabalevsky (1987), Prokofiev (1988), Shostakovich (1989), and many others.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Mordkovitch appeared regularly with the major orchestras in London and elsewhere in the U.K., and frequently toured Europe and the United States, where she had debuted triumphantly in 1982 with Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1995 Mordkovitch was appointed professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In addition to teaching, Mordkovitch has maintained an active schedule in the new century in both the concert hall and recording studio.