Znaider studied the violin at the Royal Danish Conservatoire and under Milan Vitek. Continued his studies at the Juilliard School (New York) under Dorothy DeLay, whose students also included Itzhak Perlman, Shlomo Mintz and Gil Shaham. Took lessons from Boris Kuschnir in Vienna.
Znaider’s international career was launched with his victory at the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (1997). The musician has longstanding artistic links with St Petersburg: as far back as 1998 and 2000 he took part in the Musical Olympus festival, and since 2007 he has been a regular guest performer at the Stars of the White Nights festival.
In 1998 he founded the Nordic Music Academy, and subsequently directed that academic institution for ten years. Since 2010 he has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre.
Last season he appeared at the BBC Proms festival, performed at the Dresden Staatskapelle under Christian Thielemann and recorded all of Mozart’s violin concerti with the London Symphony Orchestra. Engagements for the 2016-2017 season included a performance of works by Tchaikovsky and Elgar at the New York Philharmonic, an appearance at the George Enescu Festival with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and a concert with the Brussels Philharmonic at Cadogan Hall.
His discography includes violin concerti by Elgar (with the Dresden Staatskapelle under Sir Colin Davis), Brahms and Korngold (with the Wiener Philharmoniker under Valery Gergiev), Beethoven and Mendelssohn (with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta), Prokofiev and Glazunov (with the Bayerische Rundfunk Symphonieorchester under Mariss Jansons), Mendelssohn (with the Gewandhausorchester under Riccardo Chailly) and all of Brahms’ works for violin and piano (with Yefim Bronfman).
In 2012 Nikolaj Znaider became the first performer of Austrian composer Herbert Willi’s violin concerto Sacrosanto which is dedicated to him.
Performs a violin crafted by Giuseppe Guarneri in 1741 from the collection once owned by Fritz Kreisler. The violin was presented to him by the VELUX foundation and the Knud Højgaard Foundation.