Among the foremost musical figures of our time, Vladimir Ashkenazy was born in Gorky in 1937. He began playing the piano at the age of six and was accepted at the Central Music School at the age of eight. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, having studied with Lev Oborin. He won second prize in the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1955, first prize in the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels in 1956, and joint first prize with John Ogdon in the 1962 International Tchaikovsky Competition. Since then, he has built an extraordinary career, not only as one of the most renowned and revered pianists of our times, 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. Formerly Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic (1998–2003) and Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo (2004–7), from 2009 to 2013 he has served as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, collaborating on a number of exciting projects including composer festivals, major recording projects and international touring activities. His final concerts, in November 2013, featured Britten’s War Requiem.