Performance Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 8 PM

Emanuel Ax

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Emanuel Ax is "an extremely satisfying pianist; he is at home in a wide variety of music and his pianism is always thoughtful, lyrical, lustrous” (The Washington Post). The multifaceted music-maker shows off his command of a wide array of repertoire with this inventive program that honors Brahms’s legacy, pairing keyboard classics by Brahms with the New York premieres of stunning new works by acclaimed contemporary composers Brett Dean and Missy Mazzoli.

The contemporary works on this program are part of My Time, My Music.


  • Emanuel Ax, Piano


  • BRAHMS Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2
  • BRETT DEAN Hommage à Brahms (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BRAHMS Klavierstücke, Op. 119
  • MISSY MAZZOLI Bolts of Loving Thunder (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BRAHMS Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel

  • Encore:
  • BRAHMS Intermezzo in B-flat Minor, Op. 117, No. 2

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Emanuel Ax

    Born in Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Canada with his family when he was a young boy. He studied at The Juilliard School and Columbia University, capturing public attention in 1974 when he 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 coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

    The 2013-2014 season began with appearances at the Barbican Centre followed by Lincoln Center with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink, as well as collaborations with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons in Amsterdam, Bucharest, China, and Japan during their worldwide centenary celebrations. The second half of the season has seen the realization of a project inspired by Brahms, which includes new pieces linked to Brahms from composers Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, and Brett Dean, commissioned jointly between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cal Performances Berkeley, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall, with the participation of collaborators Anne Sofie von Otter and Yo-Yo Ma. To conclude the season, Mr. Ax travels to Hong Kong and Australia for a complete cycle of Beethoven concertos with incoming Chief Conductor David Roberston in Sydney and with Sir Andrew Davis in Melbourne.

    In conjunction with his multiple weeks as artist in residence with the New York Philharmonic during the 2012-2013 season, Sony Classical released Mr. Ax's latest recital disc of works from Haydn to Schumann to Copland, reflecting their different uses of the "variation" concept. In the spring, he joined that orchestra on its European tour conducted by Alan Gilbert. He returned to the orchestras in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, and Pittsburgh, where he is a beloved regular.

    Mr. Ax received Grammy Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn's piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano.

    Mr. Ax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia universities. For more information, visit

    More Info


Brahms's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel (Fuga moderato)
Emanuel Ax, Piano
Sony Classical

At a Glance

This evening's program features a cross-section of Brahms's diverse body of music for solo piano, together with a pair of contemporary works inspired by his characteristic blend of Classical discipline and Romantic freedom.

The Sonata in F-sharp Minor is the second of three sonatas that Brahms wrote in the early 1850s. Upon hearing the young composer play them, Robert Schumann declared that it was as if he had sprung forth "like Minerva fully armed from the head of Jove." The dazzlingly creative Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel illustrates Brahms's abiding interest in variation form; it is one of a cluster of such works composed in the middle of his career. Toward the end of his life, Brahms returned to the characteristically Romantic genre of the instrumental "character" piece, a time-honored vehicle for distilling a particular mood or musical idea to its essence. The four miniature masterpieces that comprise the Op. 119 set are his last works for solo piano.

Rounding out the program are two works newly commissioned by Emanuel Ax as part of his Brahms Then and Now project: Hommage à Brahms by Australian composer Brett Dean—three short pieces designed to be performed as interludes between the four Op. 119 Klavierstücke—and Bolts of Loving Thunder by the young Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli. Both take Brahms's music as a point of departure for sonic explorations in contemporary idioms.
Program Notes
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Sponsored by Breguet, Exclusive Timepiece of Carnegie Hall
Lead support for Carnegie Hall commissions is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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