Russian pianist and conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy belongs to that generation of composers of excellency that blossom during the Soviet Union period and left their print on the second half of the 20th century.
Born in Gorky, Vladimir Ashkenazy started to study the piano at the age of 6. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatoire where he was a student of the famous pedagogue Lev Oborin. Afterwards, he won the second prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1955, the first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1956 and the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962. His career as an international pianist was never doubted since those years and he remains among the major pianists of the 20th century.
He left the Soviet Union in 1963 with his Irish wife and settled in Island, then in Switzerland to facilitate his career as a soloist and a conductor. He went back to USSR only twenty years after his departure.
For the past twenty years, he has been focusing on conducting and lead the Czech Philharmonic, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As a guest conductor, he worked with several formations worldwide (Philharmonia Orchestra of London, European Union Youth Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony or Berlin Philharmoniker).
His repertoire covers a wide varieties of aesthetics, from Bach to Bartók, whereas he endorses his part of a pianist or the one of a conductor. Since 1963, he has been signed with Decca with an exclusive contract and many of his recordings are still today references.
Six landmark dates Vladimir Ashkenazy
• 1955 second prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw
• 1956 first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brusells
• 1962 first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition
• 1963 left the Soviet Union
• 1990 went back for the first time to Russia after the fall of the wall
• 2009 was appointed main conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Seven key recordings by Vladimir Ashkenazy
• Beethoven: Piano Concertos, Chicago Symphony, Sir Georg Solti (1973), Decca
• Beethoven: Sonatas for violin and piano with Itzhak Perlman (1978), Decca
• Chostakovich : Preludes et Fugues (1999)
• Rachmaninoff : Sonata for piano No. 1, Variations on a theme of Chopin (2011)
♦ orchestra conductor
• Shostakovich : Symphonies, complete
• Prokofiev : several recordings with the Cleveland Orchestra
• Sibelius with the Philharmonia Orchestra