Classical musical pianist Emanuel Ax will showcase Brahms Concerto No. 2 as the feature attraction of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra program this week at Roy Thomson Hall.
Earning his reputation as one of the top classical pianists in the world, Ax has chosen a Brahms piece to perform with the TSO that has four movements instead of the traditional three in the concerto.
“Brahms Concerto No. 2 has much depth and has to be played with integrity and imagination as if it were a symphony. The audience will immediately hear and feel Manny’s enthusiasm and be treated to an extraordinary performance,” said Peter Oundjian, conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for the 10th season, who has performed multiple times with Ax.
Ax’s reputation has him performing with the leading philharmonic orchestras in the world for over 30 years, excelling not only on the works of Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, but also in chamber music.
He has won seven Grammy Awards, two for solo performances and five collaborating with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in chamber music. Ax has also teamed with violinists Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern among other marquee musicians.
Earning a scholarship at the famed Julliard School in New York at age 12, Ax is now on the faculty of Julliard and has earned honorary doctorates in music from both Columbia and Yale universities.
“Even with all the awards and fame, I never stop rehearsing and working to be the best artist possible. The quest for quality never stops and I feel blessed to have a deep passion for music,” said Ax.
Born in Lvov, Poland, the 64-year-old pianist’s mother and father both were Holocaust survivors. His parents both saw their spouses murdered in the concentration camps and when Emanuel, their only child, was born they gave him the gift of a music education.
“I gave my parents their life. My father especially loved music and he was my first piano teacher. Music to a large degree kept my parents going through their tragedies, more than anything else and they were so pleased that I took so quickly to music.”
Ax was a quick study- playing the piano like a master at age six. The family moved over the next six years from Poland to Winnipeg and eventually to New York, where Ax still resides.
His first taste of world success came in Tel Aviv in 1974 when he won the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein international piano master competition.
Ax has performed extensively in Israel over his long career and performed in Toronto with Oundjian and the TSO at a 2009 fundraiser for the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.
He has been married to chamber music pianist Yoko Nozaki, whom he met at Julliard as a teen, for 47 years. They have two children, neither are musicians.
Classical pianist Emanuel Ax performs Brahms Concerto No. 2 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Nov. 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., Toronto. Also on the program are Haydn’s Symphony No. 96 and Kulesha’s Third Symphony.Tickets are $33-145. For tickets, call 416-593-4828 or go to www.tso.ca