LUCERNE 〓 Vladimir Ashkenazy announces retirement


Vladimir Ashkenazy, a conductor and pianist, has announced his retirement through management. Ashkenazi is 82 years old and was born in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) in the former Soviet Union. Along with Maurizio Pollini and Martha Argerich, he is one of the leading pianists in the late 20th century. In the 1980’s, he began full-fledged as a conductor, having been the principal conductor and music director of a global orchestra.

As a pianist, he won the second place in the 1955 Chopin International Piano Competition. After that, he entered Moscow Conservatory. He has won the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in 1956, while he was a student. Following the competition, he held concerts in Europe and North America one after another, with sensational success. After graduating from the Conservatory in 1962, he won the Tchaikovsky International Competition with John Ogdon, establishing his reputation worldwide.

He left the Soviet Union in 1963 and emigrated to London. Authorities persuaded him to return, but in 1972 he acquired Icelandic citizenship. The first music director was the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK. He took office in 1987 and served as music director until 1994. During his tenure in 1989, he led an orchestra and performed in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev’s administration, returning to his home country for the first time in 26 years.

Later, he continued with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (1989-1999), the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (1996-2003), the NHK Symphony Orchestra (2004-2007), the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2009-2012), and the EU Youth Orchestra ( 2000-2015) as music director and chief conductor. Currently, he lives near a villa on the lake Luzern, where Rachmaninov lived after the Russian Revolution. The English statement issued by Management is as follows:


“Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor, pianist, musician, artist and humanist has decided that the time has come for him to retire from public performances and to do so with immediate effect.

For his countless admirers around the planet, so many of whom have never known a world in which his incomparable artistry and his ineffable dedication to the great human gift of music have not been constants in their lives, whether in performances of a vast repertoire of great music stretching from Bach to Shostakovich, or through his prodigious catalogue of recordings which have ensured that his music could always be heard everywhere without borders or limitations, this will be a sombre day.

His music making has been at the heart of the concert seasons of the greatest halls and festivals around the world. However, he has always believed that music is a gift of spiritual enlightenment for everyone, and he has throughout his 70 year career never neglected smaller places including tiny islands and remote communities.

I count it as one of the greatest blessings of my life that I was given the privilege of working for and with him when I was just 21, and his extraordinary qualities as an artist and person combined with a character and personality of such profound modesty and generosity have been an inspiration and influence which remain as important to me today as it was 54 years ago.

We at HarrisonParrott in our 50th anniversary year have been proud to celebrate his life‘s work and his role as the father of our firm and his influence on how we all think of the values we try to uphold in our work, as well as in the duties and responsibilities we undertake, has been profound.

So many of the musicians and orchestras with whom Vladimir Ashkenazy has made music with over the decades will surely be inexpressibly sad about his decision, but we can all take comfort in the sure knowledge that music, even if not in public performance, will continue to inhabit every hour of his life and will be shared with joy and satisfaction within his devoted family and among his friends.” — Jasper Parrott

Photo:Harrison Parrott / Keith Saunders

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