Francesco Di Mauro
Award winner of Russian national and international competitions
Ilya Konovalov was born in Novosibirsk to a family of musicians. His grandfather Isidor Arkadyevich Zak was the first Principal Conductor of the Novosibirsk opera and ballet theatre.
His first teachers were professor Alexey Gvozdev and legendary master Zakhar Bron, whose disciples won biggest international competitions over one hundred times. He continued his studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna under Dora Schwarzberg.
Back in the day, when he was studying in Novosibirsk Ilya won a prize at Russian national competition of young performers and the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition. That was followed by concerts in Russia, Europe, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, Japan. He cooperated with such top class ensembles as Vladimir Spivakov’s Moscow Virtuosi, Musica Viva, the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, orchestras of Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland. He shared the stage with the following world renowned musicians: Zubin Mehta, Yuri Bashmet, Maxim Vengerov, Dora Schwarzberg, Mischa Maisky, Alexander Rudin and other. At the age of twenty he won the competition for the first violin at Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Besides that, for five years he has been a guest accompanist with the Mariinsky orchestra under Valery Gergiev in St.-Petersburg.
Since 2006 Ilya has been teaching violin classes at Tel Aviv University.
His violin has an amazing background of its own. It was crafted by the great Antonio Stradivari in 1732 and entitled Hercules. Since 1895 it was owned by a famous Belgian violinist, conductor and composer Eugène Ysaÿe. During the concert at the Mariinsky Theatre the violin was stolen. The thing is that Ysaÿe preferred the items made by Guarneri since he felt like they fit better his temper and the one made by Stradivari was left in the dressing room as a spare one. Since 1908 Hercules was considered lost for good. Then in 1925 the violin was found at a store in Paris. In 1925 – 1960 Hersules was owned by Principal Conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra Charles Munch, later in 1962 it passed to a polish virtuoso violinist Henryk Szeryng. In 1972 Szeryng presented Ysaÿe’s favorite instrument to Jerusalem only to be played by the first violin of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which post has been held by Ilya Konovalov for the past 20 years.