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The Architecture of Music (Vladimir Ashkenazy)
, 2011

by Ralph Heimans

oil on canvas (frame: 177.0 cm x 252.8 cm depth 6.0 cm, support: 168.0 cm x 244.0 cm)

Vladimir Ashkenazy (b. 1937), pianist and conductor, was principal conductor and artistic adviser for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 2009 to 2013. Russian-born Ashkenazy started playing piano at age six and was accepted into the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatory at eight. In 1955, in Warsaw, he won second prize in the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition; the following year he won the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels and he was joint-winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962. In 1963 he left Russia, settling in London with his Iceland-born wife. He became an Icelandic citizen in the late 1960s, and in 1970 helped found the Reykjavik Arts Festival. In the late 1970s he moved permanently to Switzerland. Between 1974 and 2000 he won six Grammys and recorded the complete works for piano by Rachmaninov, Chopin and Schubert, and each of Mozart’s piano concertos. His recordings as a conductor include orchestral works by Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and complete cycles of the symphonies by Sibelius and Rachmaninov. During the past 30 years he has served as chief conductor and music director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, and music director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo. In 2013 he released a 50-CD collection of his key recordings.

Ralph Heimans, who enjoys the challenge of painting complex interiors, pictured Ashkenazy in the Sydney Opera House.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Michael Crouch AC and Shanny Crouch 2017
Accession number: 2017.53