Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazy
: Владимир Давидович Ашкенази, Vladimir Davidovič Aškenazi
) (b. July 6, 1937) is a conductor
and virtuoso pianist
. He has been a citizen of Iceland
, the home of his wife Þórunn, since 1972 and currently lives with his family in Switzerland.
Ashkenazy was born in Gorky
, USSR to an Ashkenazi Jewish
father and an ethnic Russian
mother. He began playing piano at the age of six and, showing prodigious talent, was accepted at the Central Music School at age eight. A graduate of the Moscow Conservatory
, he won second prize in the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition
in Warsaw in 1955 and the first prize in the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition
in Brussels in 1956. He shared the first prize in the 1962 International Tchaikovsky Competition
pianist John Ogdon
Vladimir Ashkenazy is renowned for his performances of Romantic and Russian composers. He has recorded the complete 24 Preludes and Fugues
of Dmitri Shostakovich
, Alexander Scriabin
's piano sonatas, Rachmaninoff
's, Frédéric Chopin
's and Robert Schumann
's entire works for piano, Beethoven
's piano sonatas, as well as the piano concertos of Mozart
(conducting from the keyboard with the Philharmonia Orchestra
(with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
under Sir Georg Solti
; with Zubin Mehta
and the Vienna Philharmonic
; and conducting from the piano with the Cleveland Orchestra
), Béla Bartók
(with Solti and the London Philharmonic Orchestra
), Sergei Prokofiev
(with André Previn
and the London Symphony Orchestra
) and Sergei Rachmaninoff (with André Previn & London Symphony Orchestra and with Bernard Haitink
and the Concertgebouw Orchestra
). He has also recorded Bach
's Well-Tempered Clavier
, which was well received by critics, and has performed and recorded chamber music. He continues to record and perform internationally.
Midway through his pianistic career, Ashkenazy branched into conducting. He has particularly been praised for his recordings of orchestral works by Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Scriabin, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky.
He was the principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1987 to 1994, and was principal conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. He became musical director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2004.
Besides these positions, Ashkenazy is conductor laureate of the Philharmonia, conductor laureate of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the European Union Youth Orchestra, with which he performs regularly.
Ashkenazy has also appeared in several Christopher Nupen music films, conducting extracts from the composer profiled, including Ottorino Respighi and Tchaikovsky and performing at the piano.
On April 11, 2007, his appointment as the next chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony was announced. He will succeed Gianluigi Gelmetti in January 2009.
He has also made his own orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition (1982).
Vladimir Ashkenazy is also the music director of European Union Youth Orchestra.
Awards and recognitions
- 1955 International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition, Warsaw (Second prize)
- 1956 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition for piano, Brussels
- 1962 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Moscow
- 2000 Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducting corps
- Current president of the Rachmaninoff Society. Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra):
- 1974 Beethoven: The Piano Concertos (Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Georg Solti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:
- 1979 Beethoven: Sonatas for Violin and Piano (Itzhak Perlman & Vladimir Ashkenazy)
- 1982 Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor (Vladimir Ashkenazy, Itzhak Perlman, Lynn Harrell)
- 1988 Beethoven: The Complete Piano Trios (Vladimir Ashkenazy, Itzhak Perlman, Lynn Harrell) Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance:
- 1986 Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit; Pavane pour une infante défunte; Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
- 2000 Shostakovich: 24 Preludes & Fugues, Op. 87