Leonid KOGAN

October 18, 2004 at 12:23 AM · I want to know more about Leonid KOGAN's life, who's my favourite violinist and the teacher of my teacher.Please if you know something about him can you help?

Replies (55)

October 18, 2004 at 12:53 AM · ask your teacher :)

October 18, 2004 at 01:40 AM · Well maybe you heard this before from your teacher, but I heard he had a real trash mouth. He would be cursing off during masterclasses. I think one story I heard was about a masterclass at Curtis. There was a translator, and at one point he/she stopped talking and said I can't say that.

October 18, 2004 at 02:19 AM · i love kogan, i'd be interested to here more too.

October 18, 2004 at 02:32 AM · Leonid Kogan died way too young, at the age of 58. (It is too bad that more recordings of his marvelous playing weren't made) I know that one of his favorite pieces to play in recital/concerts was Ravel's Tzigane.

October 18, 2004 at 03:06 AM · L.Kogan always said that he wants to play the way he feels music.

He was born in 1924 in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukrainian city). When he was 9, he was sent as a gifted child to Moskow where he took classes from prof. Yampolsky. After 1935, his carrier as a performer was started. He became well known after his playing of Brahms's Concerto at The Concert Great Hall of Moskow Concervatory. After that, he became a soloist of Moskow Philharmony. In 1947, he got Grand Prize in the International Youth Festival in Praga. In 1951, Kogan got the first prize at the Queen Elizabeth's International Competition in Brussell. In 1955, Kogan successfully performed the 1st Concerto by Paganini in France. In 1958, he first time visited America and played at Karnegie Hall where he had a great success. Kogan always had a very tight schedule: he performed all over the world; he was the head of the jury in the International Tschaikowsky's Competition and at the same time he taught students in Moskow Conservatory.

Many composers, like Khachaturian, dedicated their compositions to L. Kogan. He was the best performer of Paganini (that's my opinion).

Kogan's wife was the famous violinist, Elizabeth Gilels (who's scales edition was highly recommended by Buri), the sister of Emil Gilels. Kogan's "secret" was transfered to his son, Pavel, the talented violinist and conductor, and his daughter, Nina, who is a pianist.

L.Kogan died in 1982, when he was on the way from Austria to Russia, where he was going to play Bach and Shostakovich.

I had a fortune to see him performing on the stage for several times and can say that he played very expressive and at the same time understandable and freely. (I got some of this information from Russian Music Dictionary).

October 18, 2004 at 05:56 AM · How did he die? Heart Attack?

October 18, 2004 at 02:48 PM · Here you go


he died of a stroke or a heart attack, I think it was a stroke...

I forget, Mr Friedman said something on the Kultur Kogan video "Interpretations", you can get that at kultur.com

October 18, 2004 at 06:42 PM · Wasn't there some rumor that he was linked with some Soviet thing (I completely forget the name). I heard that for a time Oistrakh, Rostropovich, and I think Emil Gilels isolated him and he had a hard time with it.

October 18, 2004 at 06:52 PM · Of course he was linked to some Sovjet thing. They all where by either A) Own Choice B) Had to.

October 18, 2004 at 06:57 PM · Kogan was a wonderful player. I am fortunate to own the Triton series of 30 CDs of Kogan, in addition to about a dozen other CDs (including the EMI Testament Series).

As Roth says, Kogan was primarily a spectacular virtuoso, but he was also most expressive and had perfect intonation. It is often said that Milstein was the closest to perfection, but I think that you could say the same of Kogan.

Listen to Paganini 1, Lalo, Khatchaturian, Waxman Carmen Fantasy, Sevillianes, El Puerto etc to hear violin playing that is as good as it gets.

October 19, 2004 at 01:34 PM · Mistake

...it says (in "the way they play" book 12) he died of a heart attack on a train travelling to a concert he was to perform with his son Pavel, apparently he had played the Beethoven concerto the same night.

It also said he died the same age as paganini and that they had no idea he had any heart trouble, also apparantly he died with people sitting next to him and no one noticed for a while

I read somewhere else he was pertified when heifetz showed up to his concerts

October 19, 2004 at 08:49 PM · his tzigane is breathtaking.

October 20, 2004 at 01:16 AM · I saw something somewhere about his being accused of working for the KGB but have never been able to verify that. Nonetheless, he seems to have been an othordox communist and he was referred to by Shostakovitch as "the communist violinist LB Kogan."

October 20, 2004 at 08:04 AM · has someone heard about his illness? (and thank you for your answers!!!;))

October 20, 2004 at 11:38 PM · You hear quite different things about Kogan. Some say that he was a modest and generous person and that he experienced anti-Semitism. Others say that he misused his policital power and that he was caustic and rude. What is the truth?

Personally, I believe that he was a good person who was compromised by the Soviet System and was forced to say things he did not intend to say. For example, I am told that he denigrated Belgium following a concert or competition there, and a later concert he was to give there was boycotted and prevented from taking place. But remember that Oistrakh was forced to denounce other people such as Rostropovich. I guess these people either were given no choice, or else their denunciations were written for them and reported in the media against their will.

A violinist of my acquaintance tells me that he attended a Kogan concert in the early 1960s (in Italy, I think). During the concert, just as Kogan launched into the real fireworks, a small black cat entered stage left, preened itself, and sauntered nonchalantly across the stage in full view of everyone, stoppped and gazed uncomprehendingly around at Kogan and the audience, and exited majestically stage right! Such is the respect a cat will show to the best that humanity has to offer!

That same person relates that there is a widespread view among the relevant officials that the standards set by Leonid Kogan in the Queen Elizabeth competition of 1951 (I think) have never been equalled, before or since, and that the official recording of his performance of the Paganini 1 is played regularly during the competitions. I believe it!

In conclusion, Kogan may have been put a little off balance when Heifetz attended his concerts, but he was always nervous before performances. In reality, Kogan could look anyone in the face, including Heifetz, and not feel ashamed!!! I imagine that Heifetz respected Kogan as the great artist he indeed was!

October 21, 2004 at 12:25 AM · Greetings,

it`s not my favorite version but I think the first movement of the Beethoven concerto (and the rest..) on the Kogan DVD is the most perfect demonstration of bow control and technique one could wish for. I doubt if has ever played more precisely than that. A phenominal thing to watch.

Just as a personal opinion of litlte value, but my impression of both Oistrakh and Kogan is that they wree of the type of deeply rooted humans who cannot leave their home base as it were , no?@matter how appalling. But in order to survive the internal conflict between the humanitarianism and generosity of spirit music embodies, as opposed to the horrors of a totalitarian state they become a split personlity. And no matter how hard they felt they were ` just playing the system` in the beginning it is a trusim that one is what one lives. In a very real sense I think it was the strain of this profoundly fractured existence that killed both Oistrakh and Kogan prematurely.



October 21, 2004 at 06:46 AM · My teacher told me that for him, kogan's version of beethoven concerto was very good, but not as good as heifetz's one. Paradoxically, I didn't hear a lot of Kogan's recordings(!!!), but what I love about him is the real sincerity and also the great energy you can always hear in his play.But to me,kogan's way of playing is so personal that it's really not ordinary;it doesn't look like any other person's play...and I find it also a bit rebel!what do you think about it?

October 21, 2004 at 07:14 AM · Kogan's playing was powerful and masculine. Roth said that Kogan's sound was not distinctive, but I can tell Kogan almost immediately, just as most violinists can tell Heifetz, Rabin and Milstein.

I prefer some of his recordings to Heifetz, particularly bravura works. In others, such as the great concerti, I tend to prefer Heifetz.

October 21, 2004 at 09:44 AM · His Paganini and Lalo are truely amazing...

October 22, 2004 at 12:13 AM · he really does have a sound that satisfies something deep in the psyche, especially his g string sound. listen to tzigane, if i could play like that i would explode.

October 22, 2004 at 03:37 AM · Yes thats so true about his G string sound. In the second entrance of the violin in the first movement of Mozart 5, the few g string notes are amazing.

November 14, 2004 at 08:29 AM · His I Palpiti recording is amazing! absolutely stunning, on par with the technique of Heifetz if not better...

November 25, 2004 at 07:46 PM · I have a tape recording of Khachaturians violin concerto with the Boston SO conducted by

Monteux and I just reheard it after ten years of abstinence. I am so enthusiastic, I had to

share my feelings with some fellow connaisseurs. Kogan was for me at any time the inofficial

Number One in violin playing.

November 28, 2004 at 06:58 PM · Artur,

I have a Soviet recording of Kogan playing the Khatchaturian, made around 1950. It is astonishing! What a wonderful artist! It is markedly superior to any other recording of that work I have ever heard, including Oistrakh and Sitkovetsky.

December 5, 2004 at 04:19 PM · A few more things...

Everyone said he was very humble including his family and his students.

In the liner notes of the new testament reissues that came out in 2002 I found it interesting that it says "unlike Oistrakh and Heifetz, Kogan like French bows" ...he never used German bows, he always used Dominique Peccatte bows, and he had 2 Del Gesu violins

1726 ex colin

1733 ex burmseter

It also says he was the first to play the entire paganini concerto with no cuts and no one but him (at the time) dared to play the sauret cadenza


December 5, 2004 at 04:23 PM · Dear Laura, I was VERY fortunate to take lessons from Kogan(Poland), and hear

him play many times! For me he was "king" of the real violin sound. Aside, incredible technique, he was

serious musician, not only

violinist. He was introverted

and complicated personality!

He was highly disciplined, and was very specific, when

teaching. Violin, and bow arm

was one to him.If you are

interested, we could discuss

at greater lenght! We have our festival, and website:www.windhammusic.com

Also email:info@windhammusic

.com Happy Holidays!

December 5, 2004 at 05:31 PM · No matter how much I admire Kogan, I can't agree with those liner notes.

Menuhin recorded the Sauret cadenza for (his) first time in 1934. Kogan was 10 at the time.

1940 Menuhin (Kogan was 16)

1952 Ricci (Kogan was 28)

1954 Ricci (Kogan was 30)

1955 Menuhin (Kogan was 31)

1960 Menuhin (Kogan was 36)

1966 Gitlis (Kogan was 42)

1967 Hirshhorn (Kogan was 43)

1968 Ashkenasi (Kogan was 44)

1971 Perlman (Kogan was 47)

1972 Hasson (Kogan was 48)

1975 Accardo (Kogan was 51)

1978 Kremer (Kogan was 54)

1982 - Kogan dies

Not to mention all the times this cadenza been played live :)

December 5, 2004 at 06:02 PM ·

December 5, 2004 at 06:56 PM · I was only reading the liner notes from the paganini cd

It did say menuhin played the paganini with cuts

cheers scott

December 5, 2004 at 07:46 PM · once again mattias proves himself a walking encyclopedia of music.

December 5, 2004 at 07:58 PM · lol mattias is the man


December 5, 2004 at 08:27 PM · lol Scott :)

How is the Cd? Do you recommend it?

December 5, 2004 at 08:43 PM · well the playing is great but i dont like the qulity of sound, of the recording that is not his tone

i mean to say his tone was not captured well on that disk

December 6, 2004 at 01:47 PM · i read it again

it said kagan's 1950 recording was the first one take recording of the paganini concerto 1

igor oistrakh said at the time, few dared to play the suaret cadenza

December 6, 2004 at 11:51 PM · Greetings,

very difficult to know which is correct, but as far as I know the menuhin recording with Monteux was notorious (?) for being done in one take. of course, it might just have been an over enthusiastic publicity manager. Another point is that at that time didn`t the recording have to be done in four minute blocks or somehting. So there was certainly a lot of stopping and starting going on I suppose? Perhaps that is where the Kogan comment is staking a claim?



December 7, 2004 at 06:25 AM · I have never heard anything performed by Kogan. This discussion really makes me want to go out and buy some CDs of his. ;)

December 7, 2004 at 07:37 AM · i'd recommend his paganini, brahms and his tzigane (above all)

December 7, 2004 at 10:05 AM · You are a wise OLD man Buri :)

December 7, 2004 at 10:57 AM · Try to find Tchaikowsky's Trio by Kogan, Gilels and Rostr√≥povich, Its the best of the best.

December 7, 2004 at 05:27 PM · lol mattias

For me, kogan recorded the best ever tchaikovsky concerto although rabin's recording I consider equally good, there are other great recordings but those 2 stand out somehow to me

Kogan's Brahms Concerto was played like a real virtuoso, equally stunning

December 7, 2004 at 07:13 PM · Scott68 et al,

Kogan was extremely high class! It too have compared his early Tchaikovsky with Rabin's. In my view, Rabin's is excellent but Kogan's is marginally more accurate and dynamic. I prefer it even to Heifetz' Tchaikovsky recordings.

December 8, 2004 at 03:22 AM · I have a CD recording of Kogan that is called "The Kogan Profile," which was published sometime in the 80s I think. This CD shows the Tchaikovsky, Lalo, Brahms, Beethoven, and several other concertos. I must say that his Brahms recording is the best one I've heard to date, followed by Ostraih. Even though the only player that I've heard playing the Lalo violin concerto was Heifitz, I think Kogan's intrepretion was a lot better. The recording really showed that Kogan is the balanced player, having passion, reasonable tempo, and a beautiful tone. Unfortunately, this CD is hard to find these days, however I'm waiting to hear his Paganini playing compared to Arcardo's.

December 8, 2004 at 06:43 PM · Raymond,

I agree that Kogan's Lalo recordings are lovlier than Heifetz's versions, which disappointed me a little because Heifetz played it rather technically.

Also - I have compared Kogan's Paganini 1 with Accardo's. Kogan's is superior, both technically and musically.

December 19, 2004 at 07:10 PM · Laura,

A few weeks ago was the occasion of Leonid Kogan's 80'th birthday. Russian TV put on a documentary about him which my Russian wife's mother taped for me in Moscow. I received it the other day.

There's a photo of the young Kogan (looking about 15 years of age) and discussions with Eduard Grach (a well known violinist of the 50's and 60s) and Khrennikov (the Soviet composer). Lots of interesting information about his life.

They say that Kogan was a shy but very kindly man and that it was impossible not to like him (in spite of what has been said about him since), that he was absolutely dedicated and, arriving home after a gruelling day's work, would open his violin case again and practice for another half hour.

Kogan was gifted in a variety of areas, and could have been an engineer. He knew much about cars and could do a lot of car maintenance himself, and give advice to anyone thinking about buying a car.

The documentary features interviews with his son, Pavel, and daughter, Nina, each of them well known musicians. Both were a little scared of him, though he appears not to have been a tough father. Of course, his life was dominated by the violin and the demands of his career.

This documentary is a nice addition to my burgeoning video library.

December 19, 2004 at 07:43 PM · he never recorded the sibelius what a shame

December 19, 2004 at 10:15 PM · Scott,

Kogan was planning to record the Sibelius and Paganini 2 when he died. Yes. A real shame that he never did get to record these works.


December 20, 2004 at 12:04 AM · hey, he was a fellow car nut, awesome.

April 29, 2012 at 03:40 AM · Hi everyone! Does anyone know where I can find the complete dvd of Kogan playing Shostakovich's violin concerto? I have the video of him playing (in color) for an anniversary concert of Shostakovich, but I'm interested in hearing this complete one. Thanks! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWjrtxBO_Ys

April 29, 2012 at 06:51 AM · 8 year bump very nice!

May 1, 2012 at 03:24 PM · Every few years or so, we should revive a discussion about Kogan, especially since his art was timeless. This is what I wrote for another Kogan discussion thread in 2008:


I heard Leonid Kogan live in Chicago in his first concert (a recital in Chicago's Orchestra Hall) tour of the U.S. when he first burst on the scene here in the 1950's. He played, among other things, the Bach C Major solo sonata, Caprice Basque, and a few other pieces which (to my regret) I don't remember. But the performances of the Bach and the Sarasate are etched in my auditory and visual memory.

The Bach was played in a very romantic style, and he somehow played the massive chords in the Fugue legato. It was smooth as ice, and astonishing. And you heard every inner voice as a separate voice. His tone was not to be believed - better than on any of his recordings. The Caprice Basque ranks as the greatest performance I have ever heard by anybody, live or in recordings.

Afterwards, I was with a group of people waiting in line in the green room backstage to get his autograph. He was thin and short, and he looked a little nervous. Maybe one reason was that there were two giant guards (whom I took to be Russian) in cheap suits standing next to him, eyeing carefully everyone who came in. Nevertheless, he signed my program and gave me a warm smile. The program is long gone, but the memory remains forever.


I don't see a need to change a word.



May 3, 2012 at 12:45 AM · Sandy, thanks for the info. Kogan is my favorite violinist, and I have been collecting all of his recordings. I would have loved to see him perform live!

Also, does anyone know where I can find his Legacy volume 4 (particularly Prokofiev's violin sonata no.1)? I also read that these pieces were dedicated to him: Knipper's violin concerto, Levitin violin sonatas, and Weinberg violin sonatas, but I cannot find Kogan playing them anywhere. It would be great if someone could help me find these recordings.



May 14, 2012 at 11:36 PM · I agree it's sad he never recorded the Sibelius.

Does anyone know if he ever played it in concert?

I can't find anything about Kogan and the Sibelius at all.

His pupil Viktoria Mullova recorded a fantastic performance of the Sib in the 80s.

May 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM · Hi to everybody.

I live in Italy and had the chance to attend Kogan's performance a dozen of times. Wonderful! He is definitely my preferred violinist and I'm trying to collect everything available on LP, CD or DVD. When I bought my first LP (I was 14 and was spanked by my parents for hat) it was a Kogan LP playing a Mozart sonata and Beethoven's 7th sonata. The Beethoven sonata is unbeilivable (by the way it matches exactly Kogan' character)I still have this Lp, I have converted it to CD and I listen to it very frequently because I think this performance is absolutely unparalleled.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find it on any other media. May be I'll post it on youtube.

May 24, 2012 at 10:03 PM · There is a collection of Kogan recordings called "Les Introuvables". When you search for it on the Internet, you will find it -- strangely enough.

May 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM · Les Intouvable is a nice EMI collection where there is nothing introuvable. If you really like sometging special look for the DOREMI publisher; they have two rare CD. One is the only recording with Emil Gilels at the piano (he was his brother in law). It features three Beethoven sonatas (3,5 "Spring",9 "Kreutzer"). The other is the recording of Kogan debut in the States playing the Brahms concert. Despite the technical quality of the recording and the habit of the Americans of clapping after every movement it's an outstanding document.

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