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A Russian violinist, who came to world prominence when she won the Sibelius Competition in 1980, followed by the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1982. As well as being a virtuoso, she is noted for her championship of authentic performance, particularly of baroque music, and pre-eminently Bach. But she has also ventured into classical interpretations of pop, jazz, and world music.

Mullova plays the Stradivarius called "Julius Falk" (1723), and recently bought a 1731 violin by Nicolai Lambert, an impulse buy on the way to a concert. She remarked that she once took up the cello but gave it up as too difficult: after half an hour.

In 1994 she began touring Europe with her newly-formed Mullova Chamber Ensemble. She left Russia in 1983 and now lives in London with her husband, the cellist Matthew Barley, whose interest in jazz got her involved. She has three children: Misha from a short but passionate affair with the much older conductor Claudio Abbado, Katia by another relationship, and Nadia by Matthew Barley.

Famously austere, sometimes called icy, she is nevertheless a gift to the designer of album covers.

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