The Polish-born pianist Emanuel Ax emigrated at a young age with his parents to Canada and later moved to the United States, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He won the very first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv in 1974 and won the Avery Fisher Prize in the US five years later. Ax grew to become a versatile musician and travels all over the world giving recitals and performances with leading orchestras. Ax is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the universities of Yale and Columbia.
Mariss Jansons studied violin and conducting in St. Petersburg and furthered his studies in Vienna and Salzburg with Hans Swarovsky and Herbert von Karajan. He was appointed assistant conductor to Yevgeny Mravinsky at the St. Petersburg orchestra in 1973; his father was also a conductor there at that time. He was chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979-2000, where he gained an international reputation. Mariss Jansons was appointed music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1997, a post that he would hold until 2004; he was also appointed chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2003.
After his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1988 he returned almost every year to Amsterdam, where he was appointed chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2004.
Mariss Jansons has been awarded various honours and awards for his services to music, these including an honorary Menbership of the Royal Academy of Music in London and of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the Austrian Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst, the Latvian Order of the Three Stars and the Bavarian Order of Maximilian. The Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung awarded him its Music Prize in 2013, this award is considered as a Nobel Prize for music; in the same year he was also made a Knight in the Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw.