Shmuel Ashkenasi (Israel-USA)
Born in Tel Aviv in 1941, began violin training with the legendary Ilona Feher, later studying in the U.S. with Efrem Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute of Music. First prizewinner in the Merriweather Post Competition, Washington, D.C.; finalist in the Queen Elisabeth Competition, Brussels; and 2nd prizewinner at the 1962 Tchaikovsky Competition, he was signed and managed by Sol Hurok, performing with the New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Moscow and Tokyo orchestras under conductors Stokowski, Böhm, Kempe, Leinsdorf and Kubelik. He performed sonata recitals with Murray Perahia, Peter Serkin, and Menahem Pressler, and collaborated with Rudolf Serkin, Emanuel Ax, Beverly Sills, Thomas Hampson, Michael Tree, Arnold Steinhardt, and Pinchas Zukerman. In 1969, Ashkenasi formed the Vermeer Quartet, remaining as first violinist throughout the quartet’s 39-year career. Performing throughout the world, the quartet achieved international stature as one of the world’s finest classical music ensembles. Ashkenasi is currently professor of violin and chamber music at the Curtis Institute of Music and at Bard College and is a longtime Keshet Eilon faculty member.