Honor Is the Highest Bestowed by the New York Philharmonic

New York, April 29, 2011—Pianist Emanuel Ax was named an Honorary Member of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York last night, following his 100th performance with the Orchestra. The honor, created in 1843, is the highest given by the New York Philharmonic, and in the course of its 169-year history, 65 people have been recipients. Among the 46 honorees in the 19th century were composers Felix Mendelssohn, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Anton Rubinstein, and Antonín Dvořák. Since 1900 only 19 people have been so honored, including Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Harry S. Truman; composers Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, and Aaron Copland; philanthropists Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller; conductors Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Erich Leinsdorf, and Lorin Maazel; soloists Rudolf Serkin and Isaac Stern; and former Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker. Mr. Ax becomes the 66th Honorary Member. The honor was presented to Mr. Ax “in recognition of one of the most insightful and virtuosic artists of our time; of his generous and gentle spirit; of his constant musical curiosity; of the 100 unforgettable performances with our Orchestra in New York and around the world; of the many more collaborations to come; and in gratitude for this splendid partnership, both on and off the stage; the high distinctions that he, as musician, cherished friend, and citizen of the world, has brought to the Society and to our City for nearly 35 years.”

Zarin Mehta, President and Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic said: “Manny Ax is beloved by musicians, audiences, and critics around the world, but nowhere more so than by the New York Philharmonic. His musical brilliance and versatility have greatly enriched our performances, and this honor is a fitting tribute to his artistry.”

On his 100th Philharmonic concert, Emanuel Ax performed “Pagodes” from Debussy’s Estampes for solo piano, and Messiaen’s Couleurs de la cité céleste, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, The Yoko Nagae Ceschina Chair. He made his New York Philharmonic debut on September 29, 1977, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, led by Andrew Davis.

Born in Lvov, Poland, Mr. Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. He studied at The Juilliard School and Columbia University. In 1974 he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, and in 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. Highlights of the current season include return visits to the orchestras of New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Toronto, and a number of recitals culminating in a series of three focused on the music of Schubert at Lincoln Center. In recognition of the bicentenaries of Chopin and Schumann in 2010, Mr. Ax partnered with London’s Barbican, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony to commission works by Thomas Adés, Peter Lieberson, and Stephen Prutsman for three recital programs presented in each of those cities with colleagues cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Dawn Upshaw. His collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group continued during summer 2009 when he and Mr. Ma partnered in a dance work commissioned by the Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart festivals. Mr. Ax returned to Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston for subscription concerts, and his recent tours have included the New York Philharmonic’s 2009 Asian Horizons tour and European tours with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and James Conlon and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck.

Mr. Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987. He has received Grammy Awards for two volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas, as well as for collaborations with Mr. Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities. Emanuel Ax last performed with the New York Philharmonic in October 2009, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, led by Alan Gilbert. He will join the Orchestra on May 5, 2011, for the Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary concert, performing Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Triple, with violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Honorary Members of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York

Henri Vieuxtemps 1843
Ole Bull 1843
Leopold de Meyer 1845
Joseph Burke 1846
Felix Mendelssohn 1846
Louis Spohr 1846
Henri Herz 1846
Camillo Sivori 1846
Giovanni Bottessini 1850
Jenny Lind Goldschmidt 1850
Jules Benedict 1850
Henrietta Sontag 1852
Marietta Alboni 1852
Carl Eckert 1852
Paul Julien 1853
William Vincent Wallace 1853
Friedrich Schneider 1853
Richard Hoffman 1854
Louis Moreau Gottschalk 1855
Cesare Badiali 1856
Anna de la Grange 1857
Sigismund Thalberg 1857
Gustave Satter 1857
Henry C. Timm 1863
Edward Hodges 1865
Theodore Eisfeld 1865
William Scharfenberg 1866
Sebastian Bach Mills 1867
R. Ogden Doremus, M.D. 1869
Edwin Booth, Tragedian 1869
Mrs. Scott Siddans 1869
Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa 1870
Anna Mehlig 1870
Franz Liszt 1872
Richard Wagner 1872
Joachim Raff 1872
George Templeton Strong, Esq. 1872
Anton Rubinstein 1873
Dr. Leopold Damrosch 1877
E.H. Schermerhorn, Esq. 1879
Rafael Joseffy 1883
Theodore Thomas 1892
E. Francis Hyde, Esq. 1892
Elkan Naumberg, Esq. 1892
Dr. Antonin Dvořák 1894
Mrs. Francis G. Shaw 1899
Frederick Bergner 1900
Andrew Carnegie, Esq. 1905
John D. Rockefeller, Esq. 1905
President Calvin Coolidge 1924
President Harry S. Truman 1945
Countess Mercati 1949
Igor Stravinsky 1957
Paul Hindemith 1960
Helen Huntington Hull 1968
Aaron Copland 1970
Rudolf Serkin 1972
Leonard Bernstein 1984
Zubin Mehta 1991
Pierre Boulez 1992
Isaac Stern 1992
Erich Leinsdorf 1992
Carlos Moseley 2001
Stanley Drucker 2009
Lorin Maazel 2009
Emanuel Ax 2011


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