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Nicola Benedetti, a Scottish-Italian violinist and music education ambassador, is one of the leading classical musicians of her generation. Find out more about her best recordings, awards, and her Stradivarius violin.
The 35-year-old violinist was born on 20 July 1987 in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Despite travelling all over the world, Nicola says she hasn't found any country that's more beautiful than Scotland.
Nicola Benedetti has Scottish and Italian heritage, being born to an Italian father, Giovanni Benedetti, and a Scottish mother, Francesca Benedetti. Giovanni Benedetti is a retired businessman and one of Scotland's best-known entrepreneurs.
The violin Nicola plays is called the Gariel, made in 1717 by Stradivarius. It's worth an estimated £2m and previously belonged to an ancestor of Princess Diana. Nicola has said if a fire broke out in her home, she would grab her violin before her cat. "In an ideal world, all three of us would escape unscathed," she says. "But if I had to choose between the cat and the violin the £2million Stradivarius would have to come first."
By the age of nine, Nicola had already passed the eight grades of musical examinations. At the age of 10, she started attending the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey.
Nicola practises between three and seven and a half hours a day.
Nicola Benedetti has released 12 albums. Her 2012 album The Silver Violin was the first solo instrumental album in decades not only to top the classical charts but also enter the top 30 pop album charts. Her most recent album Baroque (2021), recorded at Battersea Arts Centre celebrated the joy of Vivaldi, Corelli and Geminiani after a long period of silence for the music industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019, Benedetti released the first recording of an extraordinary new violin concerto by jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. The pair have long enjoyed a close friendship and musical relationship, and they both believe in fighting, above all, for one thing: music education.
Nicola took home her first Grammy Award in January 2020, winning the Best Classical Instrumental Solo for her recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite.
Nicola Benedetti says her first love is music and her second love is educating people through the art of music. She is not afraid to express her anger about the provision of music in UK schools: "Decisions have been made, especially in the light of funding cuts, that are, I think, catastrophic to our future as a nation."
Nicola Benedetti’s most acclaimed releases include her 2019 recording of Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto and Fiddle Dance Suite, her 2016 album of Shostakovich and Glazunov Violin Concertos, and her 2012 Silver Violin album which put the Korngold violin concerto at its heart, creating an almost viral effect among violinists.
Nicola's motto is "Enhance your own ability, be the best you can be – but don’t keep that for yourself. Share it, expose it, give it and try to enrich other people with what you have managed to achieve."
During school holidays, Nicola and her sister had to work for three hours every morning before they could go out to play. “Think how much more fun that made the afternoons,” says Nicola.
Nicola was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours list, for her services to music.
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