A perfect pairing of artist and music: András Schiff’s performances of Bach’s music have reached an unparalleled standard. With exquisite elegance, illuminating beauty and glistening vitality, Schiff’s interpretations have long established him as one of the foremost proponents of Bach’s keyboard music. This is music-making of the highest order and an evening destined to be one of the great musical events of the season.
“His many recordings have long established him as the foremost proponent of Bach’s keyboard music on the modern piano since Glenn Gould.” The New York Observer
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
András Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953 and started piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász. Subsequently 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. Recitals and special cycles, i.e. the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann and Bartók form an important part of his activities. Between 2004 and 2009, he performed complete cycles of the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas in 20 cities throughout the United States and Europe, a project recorded live in the Zurich Tonhalle and released in eight volumes for ECM New Series.
This season, Carnegie Hall has named András Schiff as one of its prestigious Perspectives artists, where he will focus on Béla Bartók and the vibrant legacy the composer left on their native Hungary with twelve very special concert programs. Unique to this series are the many colleagues who will join Mr. Schiff – most of whom he has known since childhood. In addition to his Hungarian compatriots, Mr. Schiff is joined by the Salzburg Marionette Theater for two programs – a project which grew out of his relationship with the gifted puppeteer Philippe Brunner, with whom Mr. Schiff first collaborated when Mr. Brunner was twelve. Mr. Schiff appears in October with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer, performing all three of Bartók’s piano concerti in two evenings. He also performs the U.S. premiere of a piece by his one-time teacher György Kurtág – today’s leading Hungarian composer – and teaches young musicians in a Professional Training Workshop that focuses on the music of Bartók and Bach. Mr. Schiff celebrates the folklore of his Hungarian heritage with the group Muzsikás and gives a recital with baritone Christian Gerhaher. He also premieres a Carnegie Hall-commissioned work by Jörg Widmann, participates in a chamber music concert showcasing other pieces by the German composer, and concludes the series with the Salzburg Marionette Theater, when he joins them for Debussy’s La Boîte à Joujoux – a piece created especially for Mr. Schiff by The Salzburg Marionettes.
Additional North American engagements include a performance with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, the Salzburg Marionette Theater at Princeton, and recitals with Mr. Gerhaher in Philadelphia, Vancouver and Toronto. Solo recitals will be given in Philadelphia, Boulder, Berkeley, and Napa, CA. Future North American engagements will focus on a two-season project dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach.
András Schiff has worked with most of the major international orchestras and conductors, but now performs mainly as conductor and soloist. In 1999, Mr. Schiff created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians and close friends. In addition to working annually with this Orchestra, he also works every year with the Philharmonia Orchestra London and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Since childhood, Mr. Schiff 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, Mr. Schiff started a similar series, entitled “Hommage 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.
Mr. Schiff has established a prolific discography, including recordings for London/Decca (1981-1994), Teldec (1994-1997) and, since 1997, ECM New Series. Recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janácek, a solo disc of Schumann piano pieces, the Bach Partitas and his second recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations. He has received several international recording awards, including two Grammy Awards for “Best Classical Instrumental Soloist (Without Orchestra)” for the Bach English Suites, and “Best Vocal Recording” for Schubert’s Schwanengesang with tenor Peter Schreier, and, for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007, was nominated for “Best Classical Album (Without Orchestra)” for the second volume of his Complete Beethoven Sontata recordings for ECM. An all-Schumann disc is expected in Fall 2011.
András Schiff has been awarded numerous international prizes, the most recent being the Golden Mozart-Medaille by the International Stiftung Mozarteum. In 2006 he became an Honorary Member of the Beethoven House in Bonn in recognition of his interpretations of Beethoven’s works; in 2007 he received the renowned Italian prize, the “Premio della critica musicale Franco Abbiati,” awarded for his Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle; in 2007 he was presented with The Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize, sponsored by the Kohn Foundation – an annual award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the performance and/or scholarly study of Johann Sebastian Bach; in 2008, he was given the Wigmore Hall Medal in appreciation of 30 years of music-making at Wigmore Hall. In 2009 he was given the Klavier-Festival Ruhr Prize for outstanding pianistic achievements and to honor a lifetime’s work as a pianist.
In 2006, András Schiff and the music publisher G Henle began an important Mozart edition project. In the course of the next few years there will be a joint edition of Mozart’s Piano Concertos in their original version to which Mr. Schiff is contributing to the piano parts, the fingerings and the cadenzas where the original cadenzas are missing. In 2007 both volumes of Bach’s “Well Tempered Klavier” were edited in the Henle original text with fingerings by Mr. Schiff.
András Schiff has been made an Honorary Professor by the Music Schools in Budapest, Detmold and Munich, and a Special Supernumerary Fellow of Balliol College (Oxford, UK). In 2001, Mr. Schiff became a British citizen; he resides in Florence and London and is married to the violinist Yuuko Shiokawa.