European Union Youth Orchestra
The European Union Youth Orchestra unites Europe's most talented young musicians under
some of the world's most famous conductors in an orchestra that transcends cultural
boundaries and performs all over the world to the highest international standards.
The orchestra is composed of up to 140 musicians who are drawn from all 27 member states
of the European Union, from Finland in the north to Malta in the south, from Cyprus in the
east to Portugal in the west. The players are selected from thousands of candidates aged
14-24, who take part in annual auditions throughout the EU. The experience the EUYO
provides for its young musicians is not only socially stimulating and culturally
enlightening, it is invaluable to their future careers: More than 90% of alumni go on to
successful professional careers in music.
The EUYO was founded in 1976 by Bostonian Joy Bryer and her husband Lionel, with a view to
creating an ensemble that would represent the European ideal of a community working
together to achieve peace and social and cultural understanding. Maestro Claudio Abbado,
the orchestra's founding music director, established the EUYO as a world-class institution,
with the support of its first president, Sir Edward Heath. Claudio Abbado was succeeded as
music director in 1994 by Bernard Haitink, who in turn was succeeded in 2000 by the EUYO's
present music director, Vladimir Ashkenazy.
The level demanded of the players, combined with the renowned musical leadership of the
orchestra's conductors, has earned the EUYO an outstanding musical reputation and regular
comparisons with the world's finest orchestras. Throughout its history, the EUYO has acted
as a cultural ambassador for the EU, showcasing Europe's young musical talents across the
One of the few artists to combine a successful career as a pianist and conductor,
Russian-born Vladimir Ashkenazy inherited his musical gift from both sides of his family:
His father was a professional pianist, and his maternal grandfather a violinist and chorus
master in the Russian Orthodox Church. Mr. Ashkenazy came to prominence on the world stage
in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and as first prize winner of the Queen Elisabeth
Competition in Brussels in 1956. Since then, he has built an extraordinary career as one of
the most renowned pianists of our time and as an artist whose creative life encompasses a
vast range of activities and offers inspiration to music-lovers worldwide.
Conducting has formed the largest part of his activities for the past 20 years; he became
principal conductor and artistic advisor to the Sydney Symphony in January 2009, and
collaborates with that ensemble on extensive recording projects and international tours
Mr. Ashkenazy continues his longstanding relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra, of
which he was appointed conductor laureate in 2000, with performances in London and around
the UK each season. The orchestra regularly embarks on worldwide tours-most recently to
China and Korea-and has undertaken projects such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich Under
Stalin in 2003 and Rachmaninoff Revisited in 2002. The latter was
reprised in Paris in October 2010.
Mr. Ashkenazy holds the positions of music director of the European Union Youth Orchestra
and conductor laureate of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra. He
maintains strong links with other major orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra and
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, as well as making guest appearances with leading
ensembles all over the world.
Mr. Ashkenazy also maintains his devotion to the piano, these days mostly in the recording
studio, where he continues to build his recording catalogue with releases such as the 1999
Grammy Award-winning album of Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues, Bach's Das
Wohltemperierte Klavier, Rachmaninoff transcriptions, and Beethoven's "Diabelli"
Variations. A recording of French works for piano duo with Vovka Ashkenazy
was released in August 2009 to great critical acclaim, and the duo gave concerts in Japan
and South Korea in autumn 2011.