Elmar Oliveira

Artist Faculty - Violin
Distinguished Artist-in-Residence
Elmar Oliveira


Phone: 561-237-9001
Fax: 561-237-9002

Office Location

de Hoernle International Center
DI 211

Professional Profile

Elmar Oliveira is one of the most commanding violinists of our time, with his unsurpassed combination of impeccable artistry and old-world elegance. Oliveira is one of the few major artists committed to the entire spectrum of the violin world, constantly expanding traditional repertoire boundaries as a champion of contemporary music and rarely-heard works of the past, devoting energy to the development of the young artists of tomorrow and enthusiastically supporting the art of modern violin and bow makers.

Among his generation's most honored artists, Elmar Oliveira remains the first and only American violinist to win the Gold Medal at Moscow's Tchaikovsky International Competition. He is also the first violinist to receive the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, in addition to capturing First Prizes at the Naumburg International Competition and the G. B. Dealey Competition. Oliveira has become a familiar and much-admired figure at the world's foremost concert venues. His rigorous international itinerary includes appearances in recital and with many of the world's greatest orchestras, including the Zurich Tonhalle, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestras; the New York, Helsinki, Los Angeles and London Philharmonic Orchestras; the San Francisco, Baltimore, Saint Louis, Boston, Indianapolis, Oregon, Vancouver, Taiwan and Chicago Symphonies; and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He has also extensively toured the Far East, South America, Australia, and New Zealand, and regular performances at some of the most prestigious summer music festivals across the globe.

Upcoming and recent engagements include the Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, San Francisco, Utah, Oregon, San Diego, Colorado, Arkansas, St. Louis and National Symphonies; Swedish Radio and National Arts Center Orchestras; Hong Kong, Boulder and Buffalo Philharmonics, and the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain. Oliveira's repertoire is among the most diverse of any of today's preeminent artists. While he has been hailed for his performances of the standard violin literature, he is also a much sought-after interpreter of the music of our time. He has premiered works by such distinguished composers as Morton Gould, Ezra Laderman, Charles Wuorinen, Joan Tower (whose Violin Concerto was written for him, and which he recorded for d'Note), Aaron Jay Kernis, Andrzej Panufnik, Benjamin Lees, Nicholas Flagello, Leonard Rosenman, Hugh Aitken and Richard Yardumian. He has also performed seldom-heard concerti by Alberto Ginastera, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Joseph Achron, Joseph Joachim and many others, as well as giving the Spanish Premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's Second Violin Concerto, conducted by the celebrated composer.

A prodigious recording artist, Elmar Oliveira's disc of the Barber Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony was nominated in two categories for a Grammy Award. His discography on Angel, SONY Masterworks, Vox, Delos, IMP, Ondine, Melodiya, and Artek ranges widely from works by Bach and Vivaldi to the present. His best-selling recording of the Rautavaara Violin Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic (Ondine) won a Cannes Classical Award and has appeared on Gramophone's "Editor's Choice" and other Best Recordings lists around the world. On Artek, he has recordings of the rarely heard Pizzetti and Respighi sonatas; the Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet; the Lekeu Sonata; and recordings of the Brahms and Saint-Saens B minor Concerti, as well as the Shostakovich Violin Concerto, both with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony, and the three Sonatas of Brahms, and a "Favorite Encore" disc, among other repertoire. Upcoming are recordings of the Elgar and Faure sonatas for the label. Of great historical significance are two unique projects: three CDs featuring Oliveira performing on some of the world's greatest violins (fifteen Stradivaris and fifteen Guarneri del Gesus), along with a book released by Bein & Fushi of Chicago and a recording of short pieces highlighting the rare violins from the collection of the Library of Congress on Biddulph Recordings.

The son of Portuguese immigrants, Oliveira was nine when he began studying the violin with his brother John. He later continued his studies with Ariana Bronne and Raphael Bronstein at the Hartt College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, where he also received an honorary doctorate. Oliveira also has an honorary doctorate from the University of Binghamton. He has served on the juries of some of the most prestigious violin competitions, including the Montreal, Indianapolis, Naumburg and Vianna da Motta. He has appeared on international TV including Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, the Today Show, and A&E's Breakfast with the Arts among others. The Prime Minister of Portugal awarded Oliveira the country's highest civilian honor, The Order of Santiago. Elmar Oliveira performs on an instrument known as the "Stretton," made in 1729-30 by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu.


  • Attended the Hartt College of Music, University of Hartford
  • Attended the Manhattan School of Music
  • Honorary Doctorate, Manhattan School of Music
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Binghamton

Teaching Philosophy

The first thing I do when I approach teaching a new student is try to eliminate or correct bad physical habits that prevent he or she from expressing their musical ideas freely. I believe that teaching is a multi-layered experience, and correcting bad habits is only scratching the surface. Musical understanding is a much more complicated issue. I try to expose my students to a complete variety of musical styles. Only by playing the repertoire of the various periods of musical composition and guiding them through the understanding of these styles will a student develop their own individual comfort and confidence. Being a successful performer depends on the synthesis of these two elements: building a solid technique and deeply understanding the music you are playing. Finally, being a good performer depends on doing it. As a teacher, I try to nurture the proper psychological approach to performance. Great preparation and the proper state of mind are the key issues I stress as a teacher.
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