Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1941, Shmuel Ashkenasi attended the Musical Academy of Tel Aviv and gave his first public performance at the age of eight. After studying with Ilona Feher, he came to the United States to study with Efrem Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute of Music.
Early in his career he won the Merriweather Post Competition, was a finalist in Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth Competition, and received second prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He also won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1961 and 1962.
Mr. Ashkenasi has toured the former Soviet Union twice and concertized extensively in Europe, Israel, the Far East, and the United States. He has collaborated with Rudolf Serkin, Thomas Hampson, Murray Perahia, Peter Serkin, and Menahem Pressler, among others. He has performed with such American orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Atlanta Symphony, as well as the the orchestras of Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Zurich, Rotterdam, Geneva, and Stockholm, and the Royal Philharmonic. As first violinist of the famed Vermeer Quartet throughout its history (1969-2007), he has gained a reputation as one of the world’s outstanding chamber musicians.
From 1969 until 2007, Mr. Ashkenasi was professor of music and artist-in-residence at Northern Illinois University. For the last several years, he has taught at Roosevelt University in Chicago as well as the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.