The Russian violinist Dmitri Kogan has passed away from lymphatic cancer aged 38. Kogan heralded from a Russian musical dynasty: his grandfather was the great Russian violinist Leonid Kogan, and his grandmother was the violinist Elizabeth Gilels (sister of pianist Emil Gilels). Kogan’s father is Pavel Kogan, the violinist and conductor.
Kogan began playing the violin aged four, and by six was studying at the Moscow Central Music School. He made his solo debut with an orchestra at Moscow Conservatoire’s Grand Hall aged 15, and in 1996 began his studies at the Moscow Conservatoire and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
Kogan’s international performing career as a virtuoso violinist saw him perform regularly in prestigious concert halls across the world. He is renowned for being one of only a handful of violinists able to perform all 24 of the notoriously difficult 24 Caprices by Paganini. Kogan was instrumental in founding the Volga Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra in 2011 and the Arctic Festival of Classical Music in 2014. He held artistic directorships at the International Kogan Festival (which he founded in 2007) and the Moscow Camerata (from 2014); one of his projects with Moscow Camerata, ‘Five Great Violins in One Concert’, came to the Barbican in 2015 and featured instruments from five different celebrated historical luthiers.
‘Five Great Violins’ also proved to be Kogan’s last recording, the culmination of a discography that began with a CD of three Brahms violin sonatas in 2002. Other notable recordings include the two Shostakovich violin concertos for Delos in 2006 with Maxim Shostakovich conducting the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, and violin duos with Marianna Vassilieva in 2007, also for Delos.
In addition to his widely acclaimed performances, Kogan will be remembered for his extensive philanthropic and educational work. In 2013, he recorded the album ‘The Time of High Music’ with the aim of popularising classical music masterpieces and increasing the accessibility of musical education for gifted youngsters. Copies of the album were donated to around 30,000 schools and colleges across Russia, with Kogan undertaking a 15-month tour to personally present the CD programme. As he himself said, ‘Music is harmony, and good music can increase the level of harmony in our society.’