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Vladimir Ashkenazy

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Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazy (sometimes transliterated Ashkenazi) (Russian: Влади́мир Дави́дович А́шкенази) (born July 6, 1937) is a Russian conductor and, more notably, a pianist. He was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Ashkenazy began his studies at the age of 6 and showing prodigious talent, was accepted at the Central Music School at 8. A graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, he won second prize in the prestigious International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1955 and shared first prize in the 1962 International Tchaikovsky Competition with English pianist John Ogdon. He is celebrated for his intelligent and well thought-out interpretations. He often recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; two of these recordings were of the Emperor Concerto by Beethoven, and a number of Rachmaninoff pieces (including his Second Concerto).

He has recorded the complete 24 Preludes and Fugues of Shostakovich, and Chopin’s entire works for piano.

Midway through his pianistic career, Ashkenazy branched into conducting. His performances of the Sibelius symphonies have been lauded in particular. He was the principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1987 to 1994, and in 1998 he became principal conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held until September 1, 2003.

Vladimir Ashkenazy is currently President of the Rachmaninoff Society.

An excellent resource covering Ashkenazy’s musical philosophy and opinions on many other subjects is the book Beyond Frontiers (New York: Atheneum, 1985) which he co-wrote in 1985 with his associate Jasper Parrott.

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