This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with GRAMMY® -Award winning pianist Emanuel Ax, performing in the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at the UNLV Performing Arts Center April 20 at 7:30 p.m. In this episode of “Talk About Las Vegas,” Emanuel talks about when he decided to live the classical life; how to make classical music more accessible to people; why there is a misperception about classical music; why he’s a sports nut; how the listener is just as much a part of the performance as he is; the musical “battle” between the orchestra and the piano; and who he considers the greatest pianist of the 19th century.
Born to Polish parents in what is today Lviv, Ukraine, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. He made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series, and in 1974 won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 Emanuel won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the Avery Fisher Prize.
Emanuel has been a Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987 and, following the success of the Brahms Trios with Kavakos and Ma, the trio launched an ambitious, multi-year project to record all the Beethoven Trios and Symphonies arranged for trio of which the first two discs have recently been released. He has received GRAMMY® Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. Emanuel has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. In the 2004/05 season he 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, Mr. Ax’s recording Variations received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th Century Music/Piano).
Emanuel is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Skidmore College, New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and Columbia University.