Born in modern-day Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. Ax 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, he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the Avery Fisher Prize.
Highlights of the 2019-20 season included a European summer festivals tour with the Vienna Philharmonic and longtime collaborative partner Bernard Haitink, an Asian tour with the London Symphony and Sir Simon Rattle and three concerts with regular partners Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall in March 2020.
Additional recitals and orchestral appearances last spring were postponed due to COVID-19, and like many artists around the world, Ax responded to these unprecedented circumstances creatively. He hosted “The Legacy of Great Pianists,” part of the online Live with Carnegie Hall, highlighting legendary pianists who have performed at that historic venue. Last September, he joined cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a series of surprise pop-up concerts for essential workers in multiple venues throughout the Berkshires community.
With the resumption of concert activity this summer he appeared in the reopening weekend of Tanglewood both with the Boston Symphony and in a Beethoven trio program with partners Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma. Concerts with the Colorado, Pacific, Cincinnati and Houston symphonies as well as Minnesota, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras follow throughout the 2021-22 season.
Ax has been a Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, with his most recent release being the Brahms Trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Leonidas Kavakos. He has received Grammy Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. He also has 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, Ax 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, Ax’s recording "Variations" received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (in the 19th-century music/piano category).
Ax 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.