Dunja Lavrova

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A Professional Immigrant


Russian-born Violinist Dunja Lavrova moved to U.K. when she was offered a prestigious scholarship to study at Europe’s most famous special music school aged 13; but before that she was brought up in one of world’s most historically and artistically-rich cities: Saint Petersburg. 

Dunja was only a tiny child when, in 1991 the news were announced that the Soviet Union was dissolved. It was a moment of both hope and uncertainty for the country. What happened first was unemployment, life in poverty and constant struggle to survive. 

Growing up under those circumstances as a young prodigious violinist, sharing just one room with 5 other family members, Dunja saw past the difficulties of the everyday happenings by following her inner drive to play the violin and follow her dreams abroad. To this day, Dunja believes that it is music which has "saved" her in some of the most difficult situations life threw at her.

Dunja's extremely young parents (mother: a writer/ philologist and father: rock singer/songwriter) were trying to find their own place under the sun leading up to and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in order to provide for the family and realise their own dreams, they worked all hours. At two separate times Dunja's parents worked as part of the crew at ballet and opera theatres, the one lasting the longest was her father’s engagement with the Mariinsky Theatre - as a member of the stage crew. 

As the result, Dunja spent much of her time pre-school time at the wings of world's greatest theatres, where she was inspired by opera and ballet productions.

In contrast, Dunja would also be brought to her father's rock band's rehearsals and concerts at some of St Petersburg's biggest rock music festivals. Sometimes, she was involved in the performance, with her first ever appearance on a live stadium at the tender age of 8.

Dunja’s aunt was an artist, but at that point she worked as a costume designer for a musical theatre where Dunja was often found backstage watching her aunt adjust her costume designs for the latest productions of musicals, with which she fell in love. 

Dunja spent many months of her childhood with her paternal grandmother in the depths of Russia’s legendary countryside, which has always served as an inspiration for so many great Russian composers and artists. There she lived a much simpler life and was introduced the lifestyle of Russian countryside which didn’t seem to be affected quite as much as the life in the big capital. Dunja's grandmother, a National award-winning painter and glass-maker, was a big fan of jazz and thus introduced her to Dunja's greatest influences in jazz: Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis among many others. 

Dunja's maternal grandmother, as surgeon, also introduced her to various music genres, such as Latin Jazz and Tangos.

These childhood memories left a very strong, highly diverse imprint on Dunja’s musical tastes. When she moved to U.K. aged 13, leaving her family behind, at first this musical diversity caused her to be labelled as an "outsider" in the more traditional musical circles. Years later, Dunja has now embraced her musical heritage and she takes real pride in her versatility as a violinist in this ever-changing world. She is equally comfortable performing traditional recitals or violin concertos with orchestras as she is performing with rock, pop, latin and jazz bands. 

For this special programme, Dunja has compiled various arrangements of music which is most relevant to that journey and which has influenced her to transform from the naive prodigious Soviet violinist to the in-demand versatile violinist she is today.

During this performance you will hear a variety of music, ranging from highly-popular masterpieces of the greatest Russian ballet and opera composers (such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev), as well as Dunja's own arrangements of Russian folk music, tangos, musicals, jazz standards and even rock songs.

Below you can hear and see some examples of the type of music Dunja could include in "My Musical Heritage" programme:

Dunja Lavrova: Compilation Video

Tchaikovsky's "Black Swan" from "Swan lake":

Dunja's own arrangement of popular Russian Gypsy song "Dark Eyes":.

Dunja's solo for Whitney Houston's "I will Always Love You", arranged/ directed by Matthew Freeman, with London Symphonic Rock Orchestra:


David Bowie Tribute with Commander Chris Hadfield and "Steve Pretty and the Origins of the Pieces", live from Royal Albert Hall:

Carlos Gardel's "El Dia Que Me Quieras" tango with Classico Latino: