One of the few artists to combine a successful career as a pianist and conductor, Russian-born Vladimir Ashkenazy inherited his musical gift from his parents. Ashkenazy first came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and as first prize-winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1956. Since then he has built an extraordinary career, not only as one of the most outstanding pianists of the 20th century, but as an artist whose creative life encompasses a vast range of activities and continues to offer inspiration to music-lovers across the world.
Conducting has formed the largest part of Vladimir Ashkenazy’s activities for the past 30 years. He is the Conductor Laureate of the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony and NHK Symphony orchestras. From 2000 to 2015, he was Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra; and from 2009 to 2013, he was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He maintains strong links with major orchestras including The Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and makes guest appearances with leading ensembles all over the world.
Ashkenazy maintains his devotion to the piano, these days mostly in the recording studio, where he continues to build his extraordinarily comprehensive recording catalogue, including the Grammy award-winning album of Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues, Rautavaara’s Piano Concerto No.3 (a work which he commissioned), Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier, and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. Spring 2013 saw the release of ‘Ashkenazy: 50 Years on Decca’ – a 50-CD box-set celebrating Ashkenazy’s long standing relationship with the label. In 2014, Decca also released a milestone collection of Ashkenazy’s vast catalogue of Rachmaninov’s piano music, which also includes all of his recordings as a conductor of the composer’s orchestral music.