Sir András Schiff is world-renowned and critically acclaimed as a pianist, conductor, pedagogue and lecturer. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953, he started piano lessons at age five with Elisabeth Vadász. He continued his musical studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Professor Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm.
Having recently completed The Bach Project throughout the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 concert seasons, he continues with The Last Sonatas, a series of three recitals comprising the final three sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. The Last Sonatas takes place over the course of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons with the complete series slated for New York’s Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, Los Angeles’s Disney Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, Washington Performing Arts’ Strathmore Hall, The Vancouver Recital Society and University Musical Society of The University of Michigan. Further recitals are scheduled in Seattle, Santa Barbara, Kansas City, Oberlin, Rochester, Boston, Montréal and Toronto. In October 2015, the San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic host this versatile artist in a series of concerts with orchestra and chorus – Sir András’s first performances in North America on the podium and at the piano with chorus, orchestra and soloists.
In his role as lecturer, Sir András Schiff put together a round table forum which was presented by New York’s 92nd Street Y, addressing the pianist’s belief that it is the responsibility of every politically-informed artist to speak out against racial injustice and persecution. As pedagogue, he partners with 92Y for a second year of “Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists” – a three-concert series curated by Sir András, which introduces rising young pianists Schaghajegh Nosrati, Julian Clef and Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula this season.
Sir András Schiff has established a prolific discography, and since 1997 has been an exclusive artist for ECM New Series and its producer, Manfred Eicher. Recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janáček, two solo albums of Schumann piano pieces, his second recordings of the Bach Partitas, Goldberg Variations and The Well Tempered Clavier, Books I and II, and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations recorded on two instruments: a Bechstein from 1921 and an original fortepiano from Vienna 1820 – the place and time of the composition. The pianist’s most recent album, which was named Gramophone’s and BBC Music Magazine’s “Recording of the Month,” is an all-Schubert disc featuring Sonata in B (D. 960), Sonata in G (D. 894), Moments Musicaux (D. 780) and the Impromptus. It was released in July 2015 and was recorded at Beethovenhaus, Bonn, on a carefully restored Franz Brodmann Fortepiano from 1820.
Orchestral engagements find Sir András Schiff performing mainly as both conductor and soloist. In 1999 he created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians and friends. He also works every year with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Since childhood he has enjoyed playing chamber music, and from 1989 until 1998 was Artistic Director of the internationally praised "Musiktage Mondsee" chamber music festival near Salzburg. In 1995, together with Heinz Holliger, he founded the "Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte" in Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland. In 1998 he started a similar series, entitled "Homage to Palladio" at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. From 2004 to 2007 he was Artist in Residence of the Kunstfest Weimar. In the 2007-2008 season, he was Pianist in Residence of the Berlin Philharmonic.
Sir András Schiff has been awarded numerous international prizes and his relationship with publisher G. Henle continues over the next few years with a joint edition of Mozart’s piano concertos and both volumes of The Well-Tempered Clavier. He is an Honorary Member of the Beethoven House in Bonn in recognition of his interpretations of Beethoven’s works, has received the Wigmore Hall Medal in appreciation of 30 years of music-making at Wigmore Hall, the Schumann Prize awarded by the city of Zwickau, the Golden Mozart-Medaille by the International Stiftung Mozarteum, the Order pour le mérite for Sciences and Arts, the Grosse Verdienstkreuz mit Stern der Bundesrepublik Deutschland and was made a Member of Honour of Vienna Konzerthaus. He was given The Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal, has been made a Special Supernumerary Fellow of Balliol College (Oxford, UK), and received honorary degrees from Leeds University and Music Schools in Budapest, Detmold and Munich.
In the spring of 2011 Sir András Schiff attracted attention because of his opposition to the alarming political developments in Hungary, and in view of the ensuing attacks on him from some Hungarian Nationalists decided not to perform again in his home country.
In June 2014, he was awarded a Knighthood by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2014 Birthday Honours.