Russian-born Vladimir 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.
Conducting has formed the larger part of Ashkenazy's activities for more than 35 years. He continues his relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra, who appointed him Conductor Laureate in 2000. He is also Conductor Laureate of both the Iceland and NHK Symphony orchestras and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. He has recently stepped down from the Music Directorship of the European Union Youth Orchestra, a post held with great satisfaction for 15 years. Previously he has held posts as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2009-13), Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra.
Ashkenazy maintains his devotion to the piano, these days mostly in the recording studio where he continues to build his extraordinarily comprehensive recording catalogue. This includes the Grammy award-winning album of Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues, Rautavaara's Piano Concerto no. 3 (a work which he commissioned), Bach's Wohltemperierte Klavier, Rachmaninov's Transcriptions and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, and "Ashkenazy: 50 Years on Decca" - a 50-CD box-set celebrating his long-standing relationship with the label.