Born in Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Additionally, he attended Columbia University, where he majored in French. Mr. Ax captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.
Highlights of the current season include return visits to the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta and Toronto as well as a number of recitals culminating in a series of three at Lincoln Center focused on the music of Schubert.
In recognition of the bicentenaries of Chopin and Schumann in 2010 and in partnership with London's Barbican, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Ax commissioned new works from composers Thomas Adés, Peter Lieberson and Stephen Prutsman for three recital programs presented in each of those cities with colleagues Yo-Yo Ma and Dawn Upshaw. His collaboration with Mark Morris Dance Group continued during summer 2009 partnered with Yo-Yo Ma in a dance work jointly commissioned by the Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart festivals.
In addition to this large-scale project, recent tours included performances in Asia with the New York Philharmonic on their first tour with Music Director Alan Gilbert and European tours with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and James Conlon, and the Pittsburgh Symphony with Manfred Honeck. As a regular visitor in subscription concerts he returned to Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston during the spring.
In the 2008-2009 season, Mr. Ax's special projects included a duo recital tour with Yefim Bronfman with performances at Chicago's Orchestra Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall; a performance with Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall; and solo recital tours in both North America and Europe. Other European engagements included a tour of the Far East with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Fabio Luisi, with whom he recorded the Strauss Burleske for Sony Classical; and performances with the Tonhalle Orchestra, Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra in Munich and Carnegie Hall, the London Philharmonia, and the Orchestre National de France.
Mr. Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987. Recent releases include Mendelssohn Trios with Yo-Yo- Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss's Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. Mr. Ax has received GRAMMY(r) Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn's piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-Winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, three solo Brahms albums, an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the premiere recording of John Adams's Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra for Nonesuch. In the 2004-05 season Mr. Ax also contributed to an International EMMY(r) Award-Winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
In recent years, Mr. Ax has turned his attention toward the music of 20th-century composers, premiering works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. Mr. Ax is also devoted to chamber music, and has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.
Mr. Ax is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities. For more information about Mr. Ax's career, please visit www.EmanuelAx.com.
Last updated: January 24, 2011