One of the few artists who has combined a successful career as a pianist and conductor, Russian born Vladimir Ashkenazy inherited his musical gift from both sides of his family: his father David Ashkenazy was a professional light music pianist and his mother Evstolia (née Plotnova) was daughter of a chorus master in the Russian Orthodox church. 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 his activities for the past 20 years. He took up the new position of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the Sydney Symphony in January 2009 and collaborates with them on extensive recording projects and international touring activities each year. He has previously held posts as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.
Alongside these positions, Ashkenazy continues his longstanding relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra of which he was appointed Conductor Laureate in 2000. In addition to his performances with the orchestra in London and around the UK each season, he tours with them worldwide - most recently to China and Korea - and has developed landmark projects such as ‘Prokofiev and Shostakovich Under Stalin’ in 2003 (a project which he also took to Cologne, New York, Vienna and Moscow) and ‘Rachmaninoff Revisited’ (which was reprised in Paris in October 2010).
Ashkenazy also holds the position of Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra, with whom he tours each year, and Conductor Laureate of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra. He maintains strong links with a number of other major orchestras with whom he has built special relationships over the years, including The Cleveland Orchestra (of whom he was formerly Principal Guest Conductor) and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Chief Conductor and Music Director 1988-96), as well as making guest appearances with many other major orchestras around the world.