Born in Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Additionally, he attended Columbia University, where he majored in French. Emanuel Ax captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv and in 1979 he won the coveted Avery Fisher Prize in New York.
Emanuel Ax has been an exclusive Sony Classical artist since 1987 and his notable recordings include the Grammy Award winning albums of Haydn piano sonatas and Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano with Yo-Yo Ma. Recent releases feature Mendelssohn’s trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss's Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninov with Yefim Bronfman. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, Chopin, Brahms 2nd and the premiere recording of John Adams' Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra (for Nonesuch), as well as three solo Brahms albums and an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla.
In recent years, Emanuel Ax has turned his attention toward the music of 20th-century composers, premiering works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. He is also devoted to chamber music, and has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.
Emanuel Ax lives in New York with his wife, the pianist Yoko Nozaki, and they have two children, Joseph and Sarah. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities.