Born in October 1967 in Athens into a musical family, Leonidas Kavakos is a Greek violinist and conductor. As a violinist, he has won prizes at several international violin competitions, including the Sibelius, Paganini, and Indianapolis competitions.
Kavakos first learned to play the violin when he was five and later enrolled in the Hellenic Conservatory, studying with Stelios Kafantaris. An Onassis Foundation scholarship enabled him to attend master classes with Josef Gingold at Indiana University. He made his concert debut at the Athens Festival in 1984. In 1985, he won the International Sibelius Competition in Helsinki and in 1986 won the silver medal in the Indianapolis International Violin Competition. He also took first prizes at the Naumburg Competition in New York (1988) and the Paganini Violin Competition (1988).