Clarinetist Dimitri Ashkenazy is internationally prominent both as a concerto soloist and as a chamber music player. The son of piano and conducting superstar Vladimir Ashkenazy, he has sometimes performed with his father.
Ashkenazy was born in New York on October 8, 1969. His mother, Þórunn Jóhannsdóttir, was Icelandic, and he spent his childhood in Iceland. When he was nine years old, his leg was mutilated in a water-skiing accident and had to be surgically reconstructed in Australia. Ashkenazy took up the piano at six but switched to the clarinet at ten. His family moved to Meggen, Switzerland, near Lucerne, in 1978, and he has continued to make his home there. He studied clarinet with Giambattista Sisini and remained with that teacher as he won several competitions in his late teens and entered the Lucerne Conservatory, graduating in 1993. Prior to completing his degree, he founded the European Soloists Ensemble, with which both he and his father performed. Ashkenazy has had an impressive international career as a concerto soloist, performing in such famous venues as the Hollywood Bowl, the Rudolfinum in Prague, and the Royal Festival Hall in London. He has appeared with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, among other top groups. He also appeared with Vladimir Ashkenazy during the latter's tenure as conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia. Dimitri has championed contemporary music and has premiered clarinet concertos by Richard Festinger, Marco Tutino, Filippo del Corno, and George Palmer. An enthusiastic chamber music player, Ashkenazy has collaborated with instrumentalists and singers, including singer Edita Gruberová and pianists Maria João Pires and his brother Vladimir "Vovka" Ashkenazy.
Dimitri has made more than 15 recordings, beginning with an album featuring Franz Krommer's Clarinet Concerto, Op. 36, in 1994. He has recorded for the Pan, Dux, and Paladino labels, among others, often exposing little-known clarinet music from several eras. In 2014, he was heard on the album Vladimir Ashkenazy & Dimitri Ashkenazy: Father & Son. In 2020, Dimitri joined a quartet of string players on a Paladino recording of clarinet quintets by Brahms and Houtaf Khoury.