Artist's Biography

Emanuel Ax

Tuned in concert for two performances, Norwalk, Ct. (Oct. 1978)


Pianist Emanuel Ax enjoys an international career that brings him acclaim in equal measure for his concert, chamber and recital performances. Highly regarded for his poetic lyricism and brilliant technique, he first won the attention of the classical world in 1974, when at the age of twenty-five he took the top prize in the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. He has been a busy and respected figure on the international concert scene ever since.

An exclusive Sony Classical artist since 1987, Ax has recorded for the label a wide range of concert, chamber and solo piano music, from Classical works to twentieth-century music. His most recent Grammy Award-winning recordings for Sony Classical include the first volume in his ongoing cycle of Haydn piano sonatas and a disc of the clarinet trios of Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart (with Yo-Yo Ma and Richard Stoltzman). Los Tangueros, a recent Sony Classical recording, represents a striking departure for Ax, in which he collaborates with pianist Pablo Ziegler in new two-piano arrangements of tangos and milongas by Astor Piazzolla. Ax recently completed his first period-instrument recording for Sony Classical, playing the Chopin Piano Concerto no. 2 on an 1853 Erard piano. Future plans include recording the first Chopin piano concerto, also on period instruments, and the Brahms Piano Concerto no. 2 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Bernard Haitink.

Devoted to the chamber music literature, Emanuel Ax regularly performs duo recitals with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, their recordings together earning them three Grammy Awards. They recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their partnership with a series of recitals in the United States, culminating at Carnegie Hall. He also regularly plays quartets with Isaac Stern , Jaime Laredo and Yo-Yo Ma, making several tours in the United States and Europe. For Sony Classical they have recorded works by Brahms, Fauré, Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart.

Ax's forthcoming engagements include concerts with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle, the Cologne Radio Orchestra and Donald Runnicles, a summer tour with the European Union Youth Orchestra and Bernard Haitink visiting France, the Berlin Festival, and the BBC Proms. In September 1997 he premiered a new concerto by John Adams with the Cleveland Orchestra and will repeat the work in 1998 with both the Royal Concertgebouw and the London Symphony Orchestras. Also included in a busy season are a tour of Europe with Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, concerts in London, Paris and Madrid with Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra, and a tour with the Concertgebouw and Riccardo Chailly.

Emanuel Ax visits Europe regularly. Recent orchestral engagements there included the St. Petersburg Philharmonic on tour with Mariss Jansons, the Danish Radio Orchestra under Kurt Sanderling, the Philharmonia Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnanyi in London and Frankfurt, the Teatro Comunale with Lawrence Foster and the Zürich Tonhalle with David Zinman. He has also given recitals in Amsterdam, Leipzig, Munich, Paris, Milan and London, as well as in Portugal and Spain. These programs included an exploration of the variation form that he also featured in recitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and New York. Other European appearances included tours of Germany and Spain with both the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Philharmonic, as well as concerts with the Philharmonia, DSO Berlin, NDR Hamburg, Suisse Romande and Orchestre National de France.

During the 1996-97 season, Emanuel Ax celebrated Hans Werner Henze's seventieth birthday, playing Henze's Tristan with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur. 

Emanuel Ax is in demand all over the United States, both in recital and in orchestral concerts, regularly performing in New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Saint Louis. In addition, he makes regular festival appearances at Aspen, Blossom, Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Tanglewood and the BBC Proms.

Emanuel Ax was born in Lvov, Poland, and began to study the piano at the age of six in Warsaw. When the family moved to North America in 1961, he continued his studies at The Juilliard School under Mieczyslaw Munz. In addition to winning the Rubinstein Competition, he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1979. He lives in New York with his wife, the pianist Yoko Nozaki, and their two children.


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