What follows below is from HarrisonParrott’s website (posted by them on January 17 when I was between hospitals and not doing much about anything). Three months on, I would now like to record my pleasure at having interviewed Vladimir Ashkenazy on several occasions (he was always a very willing interviewee) and being able to share a few words following concerts (he is the friendliest of men). If I am surprised that this most-honest and -enthusiastic musician has opted to retire, being in his early-eighties is but a statistic, of course I respect his decision. This is just to wish Vladimir Ashkenazy a long and happy retirement, and, whether as pianist or conductor, thank-you sir for the music, and for your company. Colin Anderson
From Jasper Parrott (of HarrisonParrott):
“Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor, pianist, musician, artist and humanist has decided that the time has come for him to retire from public performances and to do so with immediate effect.
“For his countless admirers around the planet, so many of whom have never known a world in which his incomparable artistry and his ineffable dedication to the great human gift of music have not been constants in their lives, whether in performances of a vast repertoire of great music stretching from Bach to Shostakovich, or through his prodigious catalogue of recordings which have ensured that his music could always be heard everywhere without borders or limitations, this will be a sombre day.
“His music making has been at the heart of the concert seasons of the greatest halls and festivals around the world. However, he has always believed that music is a gift of spiritual enlightenment for everyone, and he has throughout his 70 year career never neglected smaller places including tiny islands and remote communities.
“I count it as one of the greatest blessings of my life that I was given the privilege of working for and with him when I was just 21, and his extraordinary qualities as an artist and person combined with a character and personality of such profound modesty and generosity have been an inspiration and influence which remain as important to me today as it was 54 years ago.
“We at HarrisonParrott in our 50th anniversary year have been proud to celebrate his life‘s work and his role as the father of our firm and his influence on how we all think of the values we try to uphold in our work, as well as in the duties and responsibilities we undertake, has been profound.
“So many of the musicians and orchestras with whom Vladimir Ashkenazy has made music with over the decades will surely be inexpressibly sad about his decision, but we can all take comfort in the sure knowledge that music, even if not in public performance, will continue to inhabit every hour of his life and will be shared with joy and satisfaction within his devoted family and among his friends.” Jasper Parrott
HP @ 50: