Skip to main content
Select Source:

Emanuel Ax

Emanuel Ax

Emanuel Ax (born 1949), American pianist, winner of the first Artur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, became a major contemporary intetpreter of the traditional piano literature who was also willing to explore serious new compositions for the piano.

Emanuel Ax was born in Lwow, eastern Poland in 1949. His father, a coach at the Lwow Opera House, was the pianist's first teacher. Ax commenced his study of the piano when he was seven years old. One year later his family moved to Warsaw, and soon after, having secured exit visas, they emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada, where they had relatives. In 1961, after a year and a half in Canada, the family moved once more, this time to New York City. Emanuel Ax, then 11 years old, enrolled in the Pre-College Division at Juilliard. His only formal piano teacher at Juilliard was Mieczslaw Munz, with whom he studied for four years, eventually winning the Young Concert Artists' Michaels Award, among other honors. He majored in French at Columbia University.

Musical Career

In 1969, Ax toured Latin America. In 1970, he entered the Chopin contest in Warsaw, and came in seventh place. Continuing difficulties during this phase of his career included placing third in the Viaμnna da Motta competition in Lisbon in 1971 and undistinguished recognition in the Queen Elizabeth Contest in Brussels in 1972. Despite this, Ax persisted and achieved a decisive breakthrough at the first Artur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in 1974.

Rubinstein cultivated his young protegé, counseling him, occasionally soliciting his advice, and in general treating him as a fellow artist. In 1979, Ax won the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize.

Ax became one of the most sought-after concert performers of this period. He often played chamber music at summer events in Aspen, Colorado, and maintained an extremely active schedule, giving as many as 90 concerts a year. He performed with virtually every major orchestra in eastern and western Europe, the United States, Latin America, and Asia. He has compiled an extensive and essential contemporary discography. In addition to his solo recordings, he has numerous releases with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with whom Ax claimed to have a special musical rapport over the past 20 years. He has also won Grammy Awards.

Ax's expertise was concentrated on the standard piano literature, the Romantic and Classical repertoire cultivated by such pianists as Artur Rubinstein, among others. Ax did not limit himself exclusively to this piano literature, but it was his mainstay. In 1984, he performed Hans Werner Henze's Tristan (1974) with the composer conducting the New York Philharmonic. Ax explored current literature to uncover little known works he could present to the listening public, but he required that they be accessible to his particular expertise and audience. More characteristically perhaps, he presented compositions from the Romantic and Classical periods, for example the Années de P'erinage of Liszt, and he had an intellectual's grasp, as well as an artist's, of the details in the standard piano repertoire.

When learning a new composition, he focused his attention not exclusively upon the score, but read the scholarly secondary source literature including music criticism, biography, and history. At the same time, he was moving away from the keyboard, thus bringing a combined technical acumen and intuitive grasp to the individual work. Ax felt his primary responsibility to be communication with his audience, providing them with a serious experience that would enliven their grasp of the music, its composer, and the tradition in which both could be found.

Further Reading

Ax is discussed briefly in Baker's Biographical Dictionary, 6th ed. (1978). His concerts and recordings have been reviewed in all major newspapers and music journals. The pianist himself is the subject of the following articles: "Who wants to be another Horowitz?" S. Clark, Village Voice 23 (March 20, 1978); "Emanuel Ax," interview with A. Kozinn, Fugue 4 (November 1979); "Time Off with Emanuel Ax," interview with L.P. Yost, Clavier 19 (1980); "Casual Conversation with a Touring Virtuoso," Paul Hertelendy, Contemporary Keyboard (February 1980); "An Interview with Emanuel Ax," D. Manildi, American Record 45 (January-February 1982); "Emanuel Ax Goes 20th Century," Allan Kozinn, Keynote (July 1984); "Pianist Emanuel Ax: An Adventurous Virtuoso, "Karen Monson, Ovation (April 1985).

Other articles on Ax include: "Classical Keeping Score, "Billboard (February 24, 1996) and "Ax & Ma: Duo Extraordinary," Musical America (May 1990). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Emanuel Ax." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Emanuel Ax." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/emanuel-ax

"Emanuel Ax." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/emanuel-ax

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ax, Emanuel

Ax, Emanuel (b Lwów, 1949). Polish-born Amer. pianist. Lived in USA from 1961 (cit. 1970). NY début 1973. 1st prize, first Rubinstein comp., Israel, 1974. London 1977. Noted Chopin-player, also interpreter of Ravel, Bartók, and Schoenberg.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ax, Emanuel." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ax, Emanuel." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ax-emanuel

"Ax, Emanuel." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved September 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ax-emanuel

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ax, Emanuel

AX, EMANUEL

AX, EMANUEL (1949– ), U.S. pianist of Polish birth. After World War ii, the Ax family immigrated to Canada, moving to New York in 1961. Ax's first teacher was his father, a coach at the Lvov Opera. In 1966 he begun his studies with M. Münz at the Juilliard School of Music and also attended Columbia University (B.A. 1970). Ax had already received several honors in competitions and made his New York debut in 1973. In 1974 he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. The following year he received the Young Concert Artists' Michaels Award and in 1979 he won the Avery Fisher Prize. Ax developed an international career that brought him acclaim in equal measure for his concert, chamber, and recital performances. He appeared in the U.S. (Philadelphia Orchestra, New York po, and the lpo) and abroad with major orchestras. In 1991 he made his debut at the Proms in London, performing Brahms' First Piano Concerto. Devoted to chamber music literature, Ax regularly performed with artists such as Young Uck Kim, Yo-Yo Ma, and Jaime Laredo and was a frequent collaborator with the late Isaac *Stern. In addition, he made regular festival appearances at Aspen, Blossom, and Tanglewood. Acclaimed for his poetic lyricism, brilliant dramatic technique, and dynamic control, Ax is noted for his playing of the Classic and Romantic repertoire. As a particular supporter of 20th-century composers, he gave several world premieres of their work, including Century Rolls by John Adams (1997), Seeing by Christopher Rouse (1999), and Resurrection by Krzysztof Penderecki. He also performed works by Tippett, Hans Werner Henze, Hindemith, and Piazzolla. Many of his recordings won top honors.

bibliography:

Grove online; mgg 2; D. Dubal, Reflections from the Keyboard: The World of the Concert Pianist (1984), 44–49.

[Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ax, Emanuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ax, Emanuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ax-emanuel

"Ax, Emanuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved September 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ax-emanuel

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ax, Emanuel

Ax, Emanuel

Ax, Emanuel, outstanding Polish-born American pianist; b. Lwow, June 8, 1949. He began to play the violin at age 6, but soon turned to the piano and studied with his father, a coach at the Lwów Opera. The family settled in N.Y. in 1961 and he pursued piano training with Mieczystaw Munz at the Juilliard School of Music. In 1969 he made a concert tour of South America. He received his B.A. in French from Columbia Univ. in 1970, the same year that he became a naturalized American citizen. After placing 7th in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1970 and the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in Brussels in 1972, he took 3rd place in the Vianna da Motta Competition in Lisbon in 1971. On March 12, 1973, he made his N.Y. debut at Alice Tully Hall. He captured 1st place in the first Artur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv in 1974, and then made his first extensive tour of the U.S. In 1977 he made his London debut. He was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1979. In subsequent years, he was engaged as a soloist with most of the world’s leading orchs., and he also toured widely as a recitalist. He likewise pursued an active career as a chamber music artist, often appearing with Yo-Yo Ma. In addition to Ax’s remarkable performances of the Classical and Romantic masterworks, he has demonstrated a searching insight into works of the modern era, including those by Schoen-berg, Copland, Tippett, Henze, and Lieberson. He also was the soloist in the premieres of John Adams’s Piano Concerto, Century Rolls (Cleveland, Sept. 25, 1997) and Christopher Rouse’s Seeing for Piano and Orch. (N.Y., May 6, 1999).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ax, Emanuel." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ax, Emanuel." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ax-emanuel-0

"Ax, Emanuel." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved September 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ax-emanuel-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.