IT WAS JANUARY 2011 IN NEW YORK CITY WHEN KLAUS BIESENBACH, the famed chief curator-at-large at The Museum of Modern Art, nominated a striking young phenom — then known as Hahn-Bin — as The New Mozart in V Magazine. A few weeks later, Biesenbach - who had been introduced to the self-professed “Edward Violinhands” by Diana Picasso in late 2010 - paired the virtuoso with Andy Warhol in the museum’s top-floor exhibit, entrusting the 23-year-old Juilliard graduate with his own performance series at MoMA. Becoming the first solo classical musician to achieve this feat in the museum’s history, AMADÉUS LEOPOLD — the Manhattan wunderkind who, in his decade-long study with Itzhak Perlman, had often found as much inspiration from Warhol as he did from Mozart — filled the revered galleries with soulful renditions of J. S. Bach’s Partita in D minor over the span of two months.
By the time Vogue reported in May 2011 that MADONNA had made a visit specifically to come witness the violin sensation in the flesh, AMADÉUS LEOPOLD was already establishing a cult following among the New York elite, with his “spellbinding” (Artforum) performances stirring the music, art and fashion worlds all at once. Downtown, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson were presenting Leopold at The Stone on the Lower East Side, while uptown — at the Louis Vuitton flagship on 5th Avenue — he collaborated with video artist Ryan McNamara for a performance of the iconic Gypsy Airs by Pablo de Sarasate. A couple avenues west, NBC’s Today Show was filming live Leopold’s mainstage debut at Carnegie Hall for his first network TV profile, with a taped interview by Jenna Bush on the Upper East Side at the Gracie Square home of his dear friend Beth DeWoody.
The unusually pop appeal of his classical performances - described as “inspired, bracing and innovative” by The New York Times - also led quickly to countless profiles and features in major publications including the Times, W Magazine, The New Yorker, L’Uomo Vogue, Paper Magazine and OUT 100, with gender-defying fashion spreads by influential photographers including Bruce Weber for Vogue Spain and Danieli + Iango for the cover of the British fashion bible i-D Magazine.
Such limelight only seemed fitting for AMADÉUS LEOPOLD, who following his Paris debut in 2008 at the Louvre Museum launched his umbrella project The Renaissance of Classical Music to “bring the quarantined genre into mainstream culture.” The Perlman protégé - born 1987 in Seoul - began playing the violin at the age of 5, and by age twelve had made his international debut at the Grammy Awards, where his performance of Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole won a standing ovation from the legendary Isaac Stern. At age 15, following his studies at The Colburn School in Los Angeles with Robert Lipsett, he recorded his first album HAZE for Universal Music Korea. Surveying his experience of September 11, HAZE featured works by Arvo Pärt, Leoš Janáček and Prokofiev. Merely months following his early graduation from The Juilliard School in 2009 — and his First Prize win at the 49th Annual YCA International Auditions — the world-famous architect Peter Marino introduced Leopold to Manhattan by presenting him in recital at Carnegie's Zankel Hall. With his characteristically bold performance, the New York debut — which artfully juxtaposed John Cage with Chopin, Alfred Schnittke with Kreisler, and Lutoslawski with Mozart — was called “extraordinary, intelligent and beautiful” by The Washington Post, while Allan Kozinn of The New York Times remarked simply: “There was no resisting [Amadeus Leopold].”
As he prepares to release his international debut album, AMADÉUS LEOPOLD’s penchant for the unknown - as well as an unfaltering dedication to his idiosyncratic artistic DNA - continues to be a driving force behind his musical career. Earlier this year, following his Seattle Symphony debut at the sold-out Benaroya Hall, Leopold collaborated with MADONNA on her album MDNA, performing with her on the track "Beautiful Killer." Before his controversial Lincoln Center debut with Orchestra of St. Luke's at Alice Tully Hall in the spring — a politically-charged performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on the day of President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage — he collaborated with the Scissor Sisters on their latest studio effort Magic Hour. Then, in summer 2012, following his U.K. debuts at the Royal Albert Hall and the Latitude Festival, Milan’s Corriere della Sera reported and confirmed the violinist’s name change, with NPR later revealing that the musician’s new name is a mantra meant to "embody the renaissance of classical music itself.” It's a goal this young New Yorker seems undoubtedly well on his way to achieving. ¶