Born in Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Canada with his family as a young boy. He studied at the Juilliard School and Columbia University, capturing 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 Avery Fisher Prize. He made his SFS debut in 1979 and appeared here most recently in 2019.
Highlights of the 2019–20 season include a European summer festivals tour with the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Bernard Haitink, an Asian tour with the London Symphony and Simon Rattle, US concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and performances with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and cellist Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Mr. Ax also performs a solo recital at Carnegie Hall along with recitals across the US. He can be heard in concerts with the orchestras of Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Indianapolis in the US, and in Europe he performs with orchestras in London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Rome, Zurich, Rotterdam and Tel Aviv.
The pianist regularly collaborates with more recent composers, having performed works written for him by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. Most recently he added HK Gruber’s Piano Concerto and Samuel Adams’s Impromptus to his repertory.
Mr. Ax has been a Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987. He received Grammy awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. He also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. In the 2004–05 season Mr. Ax contributed to an International Emmy award-winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2013, his recording Variations received an ECHO Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year. With Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, he has recorded discs of Beethoven's Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 for SFS Media.
Mr. Ax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Skidmore College, Yale University, and Columbia University.