Kennedy came from a family of musicians. His father is a cellist, his mother a piano teacher. Kennedy began playing the violin at the age of six years. After a year he received the first scholarship at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in London, where it was partially supervised by Menuhin personally.
At age 16, he went to the Juilliard School of Music; there he received his classical training in the class of Dorothy DeLay. At the same time he was introduced by the jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli in jazz improvisation. In 1977, Kennedy his concert debut with the E minor Violin Concerto by Mendelssohn in London's Royal Festival Hall, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of Riccardo Muti.
From 1980, Kennedy performed regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic, and soon after he played with almost all the major orchestras and leading conductors. Kennedy also gave regular concerts with smaller ensembles and chamber music partners. So his arrangement was premiered in 1998 with works by Jimi Hendrix and recorded for Sony. In addition, in the spring of 1998 was a duo tour and recording of works by Bach to Kodály place with cellist Lynn Harrell.
In 1999 he gave a memorable performance in Belgrade; the first Western artist after the Kosovo war, he was playing a sold-out concert of works by Bach and Bartók.
2000, a large creek tour through Germany instead with the Berlin Philharmonic Bach Collegium. The recording stopped about a year in the German classical charts.
For several years, Nigel Kennedy has his residence alternately in London, Malvern and Krakow. His Polish wife Agnieszka brought him into contact with Kraków artists and so, with the Cracow Klezmer Band Kroke first a concert program and in 2003 an album. In 2002 he was appointed artistic director of the Polish Chamber Orchestra, a position once held by his teacher and mentor Yehudi Menuhin. With Menuhin he shares the criticism of the policies of the State of Israel. Since 2007, he refused to perform in Israel. During a concert by the BBC with a Palestinian youth orchestra in 2013, he demanded that Palestinian musicians would have to be freed from the legacy of apartheid.
Nigel Kennedy published in 2007 a CD with partly forgotten Polish violin concertos of the late Romantic period, about Emil Mlynarski ( 1870-1935 ) and Karlowicz ( 1876-1909 ).
"If you want, I can call a classical violinist; I even see myself as a musician who just plays music - and not just one kind of music. " Nigel Kennedy
Nigel Kennedy is considered the enfant terrible of the classical music scene. His repertoire includes next to Beethoven, Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach, Peter Gabriel, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors.
He was known not only for his extraordinary talent, but also by its occurrence. With provocative punk hairstyle he created an image that is made in concert halls for scandals, its popularity but also outside of the typical concert audience was conducive. So he became the pop star of the classical music of the 1980s.
After he had put his skills in classical works demonstrate, he moved to pastures new. Having initially worked in jazz pieces as encores in his concerts. After concerts in the cities of the world, he was always a guest in the most famous jazz clubs to nightly jam sessions.
In 1997, the band was The Kennedy Experience, and he devoted himself to the music of Jimi Hendrix. 1999 appeared a crossover CD.
Kennedy sees itself as a frontier between different styles of music. He defies the well-worn rituals of the classical concert world, thus bringing in his concerts by young punk to rock fan all together. With the tour "Classic Meets Jazz" in 2003, he combined the classical music of Johann Sebastian Bach with jazz works by Miles Davis.
Published in 1989 recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons is the best selling classical album of all time. After over a year topped the UK classical charts and sold over three million sold they got an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The album " Kennedy plays Bach " from 2000 was a great success. Over a year it was found in the German classical charts, the final concert of the following tour was broadcast live on the Internet. Nigel Kennedy was the first classical artist to his 25-year anniversary concert in 2002 published a "Greatest Hits " album. All concerts of this tour were sold out.
- Violin by Guarneri del Gesù, made in 1735
- Violin by Scott Cao