Vladimir Ashkenazy (July 6, 1937)
As a piano virtuoso, Vladimir Ashkenazy has gained an international reputation for his penetrating insight and superlative technique; his mastery extends from Haydn to the contemporary era. He is renowned for his performances of Romantic and Russian composers. He has recorded the complete 24 Preludes and Fugues of Shostakovich, Scriabin's sonatas, Chopin and Schumann's entire works for piano, Beethoven's piano sonatas, as well as the piano concertos of Mozart, Beethoven, Béla Bartók, Prokofiev, and Sergei Rachmaninov. He has also performed and recorded chamber music. He continues to record and perform internationally.
Midway through his pianistic career, Vladimir Ashkenazy also branched into conducting. In 1981 was appointed principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. From 1987 to 1994 he was music director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. He was also principal guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1987 to 1994), and chief conductor of the (West) Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (from 1989), and of its successor, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (from 1994). He was principal conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from 1998 to 2003, and became musical director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2004. Besides these positions, he is Conductor Laureate of the Philharmonia Orchestra, Conductor Laureate of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra, with whom he performs regularly. As a conductor, he has demonstrated particular affinity for the 19th and 20th-century repertoire, and has particularly been praised for his recordings of orchestral works by Sibelius, S. Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Scriabin. He has prepared and conducted his own effective orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
Vladimir Ashkenazy has also appeared in several Christopher Nupen music films, conducting extracts from the composer profiled, including Respighi and Tchaikovsky and performing at the piano. An excellent resource covering Ashkenazy's musical philosophy and opinions on many other subjects is his Beyond Frontiers (London, 1984; New York: Atheneum, 1985), co-authored with his agent Jasper Parrott.
Awards and Recognitions: Vladimir Ashkenazy is currently President of the Rachmaninoff Society. Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lynn Harrell & Itzhak Perlman for Beethoven: The Complete Piano Trios (1988); Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lynn Harrell & Itzhak Perlman for Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor (1982); Itzhak Perlman & Vladimir Ashkenazy for Beethoven: Sonatas for Violin and Piano (1979). Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra): Vladimir Ashkenazy for Shostakovich: 24 Preludes & Fugues, Op. 87 (2000); Vladimir Ashkenazy for Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit; Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte; Valses Nobles et Sentimentales (1986).