Vladimir Ashkenazy: Wikis

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Ashkenazy playing Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No.1.

Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazy (Russian: Владимир Давидович Ашкенази, Vladimir Davidovič Aškenazi) (born July 6, 1937) is a Russian conductor and virtuoso pianist. He has been a citizen of Iceland[1], the home of his wife Þórunn, since 1972 and currently lives in Sydney, Australia. [2].

Contents

Early life

Ashkenazy was born in Gorky, Russia to an Ashkenazi Jewish father and an ethnic Russian mother.[3] 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 with British pianist John Ogdon. As a student, he became a KGB informant but was dismissed when he married his foreign-born wife in 1961.[3]

Career

Vladimir Ashkenazy is renowned for his performances of Romantic and Russian composers. There has been a CD produced of his works named 'The art of Ashkenazy', and a biography of Ashkenazy, 'Beyond Frontiers', has been published. 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, Franz Liszt 's Transcendental Etudes (only 7 of the 12), Beethoven's piano sonatas, as well as the piano concertos of Mozart (conducting from the keyboard with the Philharmonia Orchestra), Beethoven (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.[4]

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.[5] He succeeded Gianluigi Gelmetti in January 2009.

He has also made his own orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition (1982).

Ashkenazy is also known for his slightly unusual habits in solo piano performance: spurning coat and tie in favor of a white turtleneck and black suit; running (not walking) onstage to the piano; and running offstage after finishing and taking his bow.

Awards and recognitions

Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra)
Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance

References

  • Ashkenazy, Vladimir; Parrott, Jasper (1985). Beyond Frontiers. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689115059.  

External links

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Riccardo Chailly
Principal Conductor, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
1989–1999
Succeeded by
Kent Nagano
Preceded by
Charles Dutoit
Music Director, NHK Symphony Orchestra
2004–2007
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
Gianluigi Gelmetti
Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
2009 – present
Incumbent
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Simple English

Vladimir Ashkenazy (born 6 July 1937) is a Russian pianist and conductor. He became world famous as a pianist. During the last two decades he has become equally famous as a conductor, as well as performing and recording as a pianist.

Contents

Early life

Ashkenazy was born in Gorky, Russia. His father was an Ashkenazi Jew, his mother was Russian. Although his father was a pianist he never had lessons from him. He began playing the piano when he was six. He soon showed enormous talent and two years later went to the Central Music School in Gorki. He graduated from 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 with British pianist John Ogdon.

Pianistic career

Vladimir Ashkenazy has had an extremely successful career as a pianist. He became famous for his playing of Romantic music and music by Russian composers. He recorded a very large amount of music including the 24 Preludes and Fugues of Dmitri Shostakovich, Alexander Scriabin's piano sonatas, Rachmaninoff's, Frédéric Chopin's and Robert Schumann's complete piano works, Beethoven's piano sonatas, and the piano concertos of Mozart (conducting from the keyboard with the Philharmonia Orchestra). He recorded concertos with many of the world's most famous orchestras. He still records and performs all over the world, often playing piano concertos and conducting from the piano keyboard.

Conducting career

In the late 1980s he started to become known as a conductor. He was principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1987 to 1994, and of the Czech Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. He became conductor (musical director) of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2004. He toured with them in 2005, taking them to Vienna for their first concert in the famous concert hall called the Musikverein. In 2006 he took them to Seoul and then to the United States where they played in many cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles (Walt Disney Concert Hall), Boston and New York City (Carnegie Hall).

Ashkenazy is now also conductor laureate of the Philharmonia, conductor laureate of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the European Union Youth Orchestra. He is often invited as a guest conductor to work with other famous orchestras.

Ashkenazy has been awarded many honours and prizes for his performances and recordings. He lives with his Icelandic wife in Switzerland.

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