Biography

András Schiff

Current as of August 2021

András Schiff was born in Budapest in 1953 and started piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász. He continued his studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados and in London with George Malcolm.

Recitals and special cycles, featuring the major keyboard works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann and Bartók, form an important part of his activities. Since 2004 he has performed complete cycles of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in 20 cities, including a cycle at the Tonhalle in Zurich that was recorded live by ECM and received the most prestigious awards. Also on ECM is his disc of Schubert’s late piano works, recorded on an 1820 Viennese fortepiano by Franz Brodmann. It was awarded the International Classical Music Award for best solo instrumental recording of the year, marking the second time András Schiff had received the Award, following Geistervariationen, his 2012 disc of works by Schumann. In autumn 2017 he released a recording with his wife, violinist Yuuko Shiokawa, which featured works by Bach, Busoni and Beethoven, as well as a recording of piano works by Schubert in 2019. His most recent album appeared in 2020 and was made in collaboration with the clarinettist and composer Jörg Widmann. In addition to Brahms’s clarinet sonatas op. 120, it contains the Intermezzi for piano composed by Jörg Widmann and dedicated to András Schiff.

András Schiff has worked with most of the major international orchestras and conductors, but nowadays performs mainly as a conductor and soloist. In 1999 he created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians and friends. In addition to working annually with the orchestra, he collaborates with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Since childhood, he has enjoyed playing chamber music and from 1989 to 1998 was artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Musiktage Mondsee chamber music festival near Salzburg. In 1995, together with Heinz Holliger, he founded the Ittinger Whitsun Concerts in Kartause Ittingen in Switzerland. In 1998 András Schiff started a similar series, Omaggio a Palladio, at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.

András Schiff has been awarded numerous international prizes: in 2006 he became an honorary member of the Beethoven House in Bonn in recognition of his interpretations of the composer’s works; in 2012 he was made a special supernumerary fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and received the Golden Mozart Medal of the International Mozarteum Foundation, the Order pour le mérite for Sciences and Arts and the Knight Commander’s Cross of the German Republic, as well as being made an honorary member of the Konzerthaus in Vienna. He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal in December 2013 for his outstanding musical work, the Society’s most prestigious award. Additionally, he has been given honorary doctorates by the University of Leeds in July 2014 and the Royal College of Music in March 2018.

In the spring of 2011 he attracted attention due to his opposition to the alarming political developments in Hungary and in view of the ensuing attacks on him from some Hungarian nationalists he decided not to perform again in his home country.
In June 2014 András Schiff was given a knighthood for services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Since December 2014 he has been an honorary citizen of the City of Vicenza.
András Schiff’s book Musik kommt aus der Stille, featuring essays and conversations with Martin Meyer, was published by Bärenreiter / Henschel in March 2017.

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