6 Oct 2016

Ashkenazy - Ten things to know

From Upbeat, 2:10 pm on 6 October 2016

Super-star pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy is in New Zealand to conduct the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy

Conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy Photo: Keith Saunders

Here’s a crash course in Ashkenazy.

  • Born in Gorky, Soviet Union in 1937
  • He began playing the piano at the age of six
  • He won first prize in the 1962 Tchaikovsky piano competition and quickly became one of the most renowned pianists in the world
  • He has been married to Icelandic pianist Thorunn Johannsdottir (who is also his travel manager) for 55 years
  • He came to conducting mid-way through his career
  • He has been principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic and chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Orchestra
  • Ashkenazy is a multinational – Russian born with Icelandic citizenship who now lives in Lucerne, Switzerland
  • In public piano performances, Ashkenazy was known for running (not walking) onstage and offstage.
  • At his concerts, he favours wearing polo necks under suits as opposed to formal black tie. His wife buys polo shirts in London, which he wears with custom-made suits from Switzerland.
  • He owns two pianos—a Steinway and a Bösendorfer