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.
In the 2008-09 season, Mr. Ax returns to several orchestras with which he has had relationships for many years including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony where he will perform the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s Piano Concerto. Special projects include a duo recital tour with Yefim Bronfman including 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 a solo recital tour in both North America and Europe. Other European engagements include a tour of the Far East with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Fabio Luisi, with whom he will record the Strauss Burleske for Sony BMG; and performances with the Tonhalle Orchestra, Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra in Munich and Carnegie Hall, the London Philharmonia, and Orchestre National de France.
Highlights of the 2007-08 season include performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Houston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and National symphonies. In Europe, he appeared with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra, the London Philharmonia, the London Philharmonic, and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin. A solo recital tour in Europe and North America included performances at London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Carnegie Hall.
For the opening Gala of the New York Philharmonic in September 2006, Mr. Ax appeared with Mr. Bronfman in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos conducted by Lorin Maazel with live national TV coverage. As an “On Location” artist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2006-07 season, he contributed to a series of chamber and orchestral programs centered around Mozart and Strauss works. With his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki, a project with the Mark Morris Dance Group originally conceived for New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival in the summer of 2006 was repeated in Vienna and London. Tours included a series of Mozart Concerti with Orpheus on the west coast, Florida with the Atlanta Symphony conducted by Robert Spano, a ten-city recital tour, duos with bassist Edgar Meyer, and concerts in Japan with his long-standing colleague and partner Yo-Yo Ma.
In the 2005-06 season, Mr. Ax served as Pianist-in-Residence with the Berlin Philharmonic, performing with the orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin and New York. Other recent performance highlights have included separate recital tours with two longstanding colleagues, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Yefim Bronfman; a tour of the United States with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Myung-Whun Chung (with performances in Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Symphony Hall); and a season-long “Perspectives” series focused on the music of Debussy.
Mr. Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987. Recent releases include Strauss’s Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart; discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman; and period-instrument performances of Chopin’s complete works for piano and orchestra. Mr. Ax has received Grammy 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 a BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and which was awarded a 2005 International Emmy.
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 he 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 resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. They have two children together, Joseph and Sarah. He 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 http://www.emanuelax.com.