Canadian-born violinist Leila Bronia Josefowicz began attracting
attention through her playing from the age of ten. Her Polish
father is a physicist; her English mother, Wendy, is a geneticist.
The family moved to California when Leila was still a toddler, and
her upbringing and education are American. Her family enrolled her
in a Suzuki violin class, where she learned on a baby-sized violin.
She loved the instrument. Her teachers discovered that she had
perfect pitch. Even more, she had a strong desire to work at
improving her playing, which even her scientist father said was
"determined and driven." She started regular lessons at the age of
five with Idel Low, and at the age of eight was accepted by
California's leading teacher, Robert Lipsett, at the Colburn School
of Performing Arts in Northridge, California. Although she was not
pushed into the life of a professional child prodigy, she was one
in fact and sometimes played at parties and concerts, including at
the age of ten, a nationally telecast tribute to comedian Bob Hope.
By then she already had some of the standard concertos in her
repertory. The appearance led her to representation by IMG
Management. She says she never had stage fright, even at such a
young age: "I'm an extrovert, a performer. This is entertainment."
At thirteen, she was granted a scholarship to attend the
prestigious Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia, where her
family moved in order to stay with her. She studied with Jaime
Laredo, Joseph Gingold, Felix Galimer, and Jascha Brodsky. In 1994,
still in her teens, she became an exclusive artist with the Philips
classical CD label and recorded the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius
concertos. Also in 1994, she made her debut in Carnegie Hall
playing the Tchaikovsky Concerto with Sir Neville Marriner and the
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In the same year she received
an Avery Fischer Career Grant. Soon she appeared with many of the
top orchestras in the world, including the Chicago Symphony, the
Boston Symphony, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the
London Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and the
French National Orchestra. Her second record, a set of solo violin
works by Bartók, Ÿsaye, Ernst, and Paganini, won the Diapason d'Or
prize. Subsequent recordings have won the Echo Prize in 1998 and
another Diapason d'Or in 1996. After graduating from Curtis, she
moved to New York, which is now her home and the center of her
performance career. She is also a recital and chamber music
performer. She tends to concentrate on this aspect of the
violinist's art in her extensive annual festival performances.
These include the Marlboro Music Festival, the Osaka Festival, the
Verbier Festival, and the Stavanger Festival. She has played in
chamber ensembles with Thomas Hampson, Sylvia McNair, Andras
Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Truls Mørk, Martha Argerich, and Misha
Maisky. In 1993 and 1994 she had the loan of the famous "Ruby"
Stradivarius, which she used on the Tchaikovsky/Sibelius CD. Since
1995 she has used Dr. Herbert Axelrod's Guarnerius del Gesù
instrument called the "Ebersolt." She has outside interests,
including sports, though she takes care not to damage her hands,
using such tactics as playing volleyball in boxing gloves. She
loves jazz, and names Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis as her
favorites. Novelist Ann Rice became a fan of hers by listening to
her records during the time she wrote Violin, and as a result,
Josefowicz has made a CD inspired by the novel.