Ilya Kaler (born June 2, 1963) is a Russian-born violinist. Born and educated in Moscow, Kaler is the only person to have won Gold Medals at all three of the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow, 1986); the Sibelius (Helsinki, 1985); and the Paganini (Genoa, 1981).
Born into a family of an orchestral musician, Ilya Kaler showed musical talent from an early age. At the Central Music School for Especially Gifted Children of the Moscow Conservatory he studied under Zinaida Gilels. He continued his studies with Leonid Kogan and Viktor Tretiakov at the Conservatory, where he earned both master's and doctorate degrees, and graduated with the Gold Medal Award. He also studied privately with Abram Shtern in Kiev and Los Angeles.
From 1996 to 2001 he was concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He has performed as soloist with the Leningrad, Moscow, and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Danish and Berlin Radio Orchestras, and the Moscow and Zurich Chamber Orchestras, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Detroit, Baltimore, Lansing and Seattle Symphony Orchestras, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in the United States, and has toured Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, England, Venezuela and Japan. In Japan, he played with the New Japan Philharmonic, the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra and the Hiroshima Symphony. Also an active chamber musician, Kaler has performed for several summers at the Newport Music Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. His solo recitals have taken him throughout Europe, Scandinavia, East Asia, and the former Soviet Union.
Kaler was formerly Professor of Violin at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, and as of 2017 is Professor of Violin at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, Illinois. He has adjudicated several violin competitions around the world including the International Tchaikovksy Competition.
Since 2007, Kaler has performed with cellist Amit Peled and pianist Alon Goldstein as the Tempest Trio both in the concert hall and in the recording studio.
Kaler has made many recordings (see Discography). The recordings released in the last ten years include works by Eugène Ysaÿe, Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Shostakovich, Glazunov, Szymanowski, Dvorak, Paganini, Tchaikovsky and Messiaen. His solo CD Ilya Kaler, violin was nominated for the NAIRD Indie Award in 1995 in the solo classical category.
- 1987 Ilya Kaler: Prokofiev Sonata No. 2, Tchaikovsky Meditation, Shostakovich Five Preludes, Paganini I Palpiti (LP). Melodiya
- 1990 Ilya Kaler: Vitali, Brahms, Paganini, Marcello, Wieniawski (LP). Melodiya
- 1991 Ilya Kaler: Brahms Sonata No. 3, Prokofiev Five Melodies, Ysaÿe Sonata No. 6 (LP). Melodiya
- 1993 Paganini Violin Concertos No. 1, Op. 6 & No. 2, Op. 7. Naxos
- 1993 Paganini 24 Caprices, Op. 1. Naxos
- 1994 Schumann Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2; Intermezzo from FAE Sonata. Naxos
- 1994 Glazunov Violin Concerto; Dvorak Violin Concerto, Romance Op. 11. Naxos
- 1995 Ilya Kaler, violin, recital of works by Barkauskas, Hindemith, Martinon, Prokofiev, and Ysaÿe. Ongaku
- 1995 Brahms Double Concerto, Op. 102; Schumann Cello Concerto, Op. 129. Naxos
- 1997 Shostakovich Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Naxos
- 1997 Glazunov The Seasons, Violin Concerto. Naxos
- 2002 Brahms Violin Sonatas. Naxos
- 2004 Ysaÿe Solo Violin Sonatas. Naxos
- 2004 Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time, Theme and Variations. Ongaku
- 2007 Szymanowski Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Naxos
- 2007 Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Serenade melancolique, Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Valse-Scherzo. Naxos
- 2008 Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001-1006. Naxos
- 2008 Brahms, Schumann Violin Concertos. Naxos
- 2011 Karlowicz Violin Concerto, Serenade, Op. 2. Naxos
- 2012 Sibelius Violin Concerto; Dvorak Violin Concerto. Naxos