Elmar Oliveira



Competition Winner

Born: June 28, 1950 (Naugatuck, CT)

Elmar Oliveira is an American violinist who remains the first and only American violinist to win the Gold Medal at Moscow's prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition, which he did in 1978. He won First Prize at the 1975-76 Naumburg International Competition, celebrating the Foundation's 50th anniversary, and in 1983, was the first violinist to receive the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

Son of Portuguese immigrants, Oliveira was nine when he began studying the violin with his brother, John Oliveira. At 16, he appeared in a nationally-televised concert from Lincoln Center of child prodigy performers hosted by Leonard Bernstein. He attended the Hartt College of Music and Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Ariana Bronne and Raphael Bronstein. He holds honorary doctorates from both Manhattan School of Music and Binghamton University. In 1997, the Prime Minister of Portugal awarded Elmar the country's highest civilian accolade, The Order of Santiago.

Oliveira has performed regularly at many of the most prestigious international concert venues. He has appeared with such esteemed Symphony Orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as the Philharmonics of Helsinki, London, Los Angeles, New York, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Zürich Tonhalle, among many others. He has also made extensive recital tours of North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East.

In 1990, he was a Grammy nominee for his CD of the Barber Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony, and in 2009, his recording of concertos by Ernest Bloch and Benjamin Lees was also a Grammy nomination. Oliveira’s discography on Artek, Angel, SONY Masterworks, Vox, Delos, IMP, Naxos, Ondine, and Melodiya ranges widely from Bach and Vivaldi to contemporary works.  His best-selling recording of the Rautavaara Violin Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic won a Cannes Classical Award and was chosen as Gramophone's "Editor's Choice."

Other recording highlights include the Brahms and Saint-Saëns concertos with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony, the Joachim Concerto with the London Philharmonic, the complete Brahms sonatas with Jorge Federico Osorio, and the rarely heard Respighi and Pizzetti sonatas with pianist Robert Koenig.

Two projects of particular historical significance: The Miracle Makers: Stradivari · Guarneri · Oliveira, a coffee-table sized book and three-CD set which compares and contrasts thirty exquisite violins by Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù; and a release of short pieces highlighting the Library of Congress Collection of rare violins on Biddulph Recordings, speak to Oliveira’s extreme dedication to preserving and highlighting the violin and critical makers of the past as well as those that are important to the development of the instrument today.

In 2016, Elmar Oliveira announced the creation of the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition. This competition - that takes place every three years - is open to any violinist of any nationality between the ages of 16-32 and offers critical career support in the form of artist management and public relations as well as cash prizes. The Inaugural competition took place at the Lynn Conservatory of Music, where Elmar Oliveira is Distinguished Artist-in-Residence.

Additionally, Elmar Oliveira has founded the John Oliveira String Competition, an internal competition at the Lynn Conservatory of Music. The annual competition is open to all string students at the school. The competition was founded in memory of Elmar Oliveira's late brother, violinist John Oliveira. For more information, please visit www.john-oliveira.com.

Since 1994, Oliveira has performed on the "Stretton" violin, made ca. 1729-30 by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu. In addition, he has violins by contemporary makers including Michael Koeberling and John Young.

Prior to owning the "Stretton" Oliveira owned and performed on the 1697 Molitor Stradivarius, which he purchased in 19889.


1975-76 50th Anniversary Violin Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

No items found.

Naumburg Performances

No items found.

Recording Awards

No items found.

Social Media