Emanuel Ax

Emanuel Ax (born 8 June 1949) is a Grammy-winning American classical pianist. He is a teacher on the faculty of the Juilliard School.[1]

Emanuel Ax
Background information
Born (1949-06-08) June 8, 1949
Lviv, Ukraine, Soviet Union
OriginNew York City, U.S.
Years active1973—present

Early life

Ax was born to a Polish-Jewish family[2] in Lviv, Ukraine, (in what was then the Soviet Union) to Joachim and Hellen Ax. Both parents were Nazi concentration camp survivors. Ax began to study piano at the age of six; his father was his first piano teacher. When he was seven the family moved to Warsaw, Poland (where he studied piano playing at Miodowa school) and then two years later to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he continued to study music, including as a member of The Junior Musical Club of Winnipeg. In 1961 the family moved to New York City and Ax continued his studies at the Juilliard School under Mieczysław Munz. In 1970 he received his B.A. in French at Columbia University and became an American citizen. In 1973 he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

Musical style

Ax is a particular supporter of contemporary composers and has given three world premieres in the last few seasons; Century Rolls by John Adams, Seeing by Christopher Rouse and Red Silk Dance by Bright Sheng. He also performs works by such diverse figures as Michael Tippett, Hans Werner Henze, Joseph Schwantner and Paul Hindemith, as well as more traditional composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin.

Ax has been the main duo recital partner of cellist Yo-Yo Ma since August 3, 1973 when the pair performed its first public recital at the Marlboro Music School and Festival. They have recorded much of the cello/piano repertoire together. Ax also played quartets briefly with Ma and violinists Isaac Stern and Jaime Laredo. Before the quartet disbanded in 2001 due to the death of Stern, they recorded works for Sony by Brahms, Fauré, Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart. Ax is also a featured guest artist in a documentary film about the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian, Five Days in September; the Rebirth of an Orchestra.

In 1997, Ax was the Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival alongside the conductor Daniel Harding.

He holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale University[3] (awarded in May 2007)[4] and Columbia University.[3] He is a recipient of Yale University's Sanford Medal.[5]

Personal life

Ax lives in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki[6], and has two children, Joey and Sarah.[7] He continues to speak fluent Polish and uses it with his family at home.[8]

Ax co-constructed the April 19, 2017 New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

Awards and recognitions

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:

Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra):

  • Emanuel Ax for Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Nos. 32, 47, 53, 59 (1995)
  • Emanuel Ax for Haydn: Piano Sonatas Nos. 29, 31, 34, 35 & 49 (2004)

See also


  1. "Emanuel Ax". The Juilliard School. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  2. Kaminski, Bartosz (2001-01-08). "Emanuel Ax: nie miałem talentu do gry na fortepianie" [Emanuel Ax: I had no talent for playing the piano]. Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). Archived from the original on May 10, 2011.
  3. "Emanuel Ax performs Beethoven, Schoenberg, and Chopin Feb. 6". Yale School of Music. January 24, 2013. Mr. Ax is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities.
  4. "Yale Honorary Degree Recipients". Yale University. Archived from the original on May 21, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  5. "Tokyo Quartet, Peter Oundjian receive Sanford Medals". Yale School of Music, Yale University. January 23, 2013. Previous recipients of the Sanford Medal include Georg Solti, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sherrill Milnes, Marilyn Horne, Emanuel Ax, and Richard Stoltzman.
  6. Jean-Pierre Thiollet, 88 notes pour piano solo, « Solo de duo », Neva Editions, 2015, p.98. ISBN 978-2-3505-5192-0
  7. Rowes, Barbara (August 9, 1982). "Hailed as the Next Rubinstein, Emanuel Ax Cuts An Ample Figure in the Classical Music World". People. 18 (6).
  8. "Backstage with Peter Oundjian". YouTube. Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  9. "A" (PDF). Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: 1780-2010. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. p. 22. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
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