Birth: Dec 21, 1953 in Budapest, Hungary
Genre: Keyboard, Concerto
Andras Schiff emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century as one of the most respected pianists of his generation. After studies with Elisabeth Vadasz, Schiff made his debut at the age of nine. At 14 Schiff began formal studies at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, where he studied with Pal Kadosa, Gyorgy Kurtag, and Ferenc Rados; later, he studied with British conductor and keyboard player George Malcolm in London.
Schiff came to international prominence as a prizewinner in the 1974 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow; over the next few years, he also took top honors at the Leeds and Liszt Competitions, launching him on a successful concert and recording career. After a series of recordings for the Hungarian label Hungaroton, Schiff made a recording - as an accompanist for Hungarian soprano Sylvia Sass - for Decca. That recording's producer, Christopher Raeburn, was so impressed by Schiff's musicianship that he engaged the pianist for a project to record the Mozart piano sonatas then missing from Decca's catalogue. The results were so outstanding that Decca continued the series until Schiff produced the label's first integral set of Mozart sonatas. As a Decca/London artist, Schiff also recorded the complete Mozart piano concertos, much of the composer's chamber music, and many of the keyboard works of J.S. Bach. The last are a cornerstone of Schiff?s recorded repertory; they are uniformly excellent and especially notable for their clean delineation of Bach's contrapuntal textures. In tandem with his work in the studio, Schiff has pursued a concert career that includes appearances with the world's major orchestras and conductors. On the recital stage, he has successfully collaborated with such notables as Gidon Kremer, Yuuko Shiokawa (who became his wife), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Heinz Holliger, Peter Serkin, Peter Schreier, Robert Holl, and Cecilia Bartoli. In the late 1990s, he added conducting to his list of talents, frequently conducting from the keyboard in concerto concerts. In order to perform all of Mozart's piano concertos in Salzburg over a period of seven years, he formed his own ensemble, Cappella Andrea Barca, in 1999.
Schiff's playing has been singled out for its complete technical fluency and intelligent musicality; in addition to the composers mentioned above, he is especially well known for his performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Bartok, Debussy, and Ravel. Among his post-competition honors are a Grammy Award (1989) and Hungary's highest artistic distinction, the Kossuth Prize (1996). In the 1990s he became a Teldec Artist; his recordings for the label include works by Handel, Brahms, Reger, Haydn, and Hungarian composer Sandor Veress. After leaving Teldec he joined ECM, for whom he has made several recordings of Beethoven sonatas.
-Joseph Stevenson (All Music Guide)
Andras Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953 and started piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadasz. Subsequently he continued his musical studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Professor Pal Kadosa, Gyorgy Kurtag and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm.
Andras Schiff has worked with most of the major international orchestras and conductors, but nowadays he 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 this Orchestra, he also works every year with the Philharmonia and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
For the Bach celebration year in 2000 he gave many Bach recitals and conducted Bach's St Matthew Passion. In 2001 he directed concert performances of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte in Vicenza and at the Edinburgh Festival. In spring 2004 he conducted the Bach B Minor Mass in London with the Philharmonia and in June 2005 he conducted Haydn's Creation with the Philharmonia.
Recitals and special cycles, i.e. the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann and Bartok form an important part of his activities. In 2004 he began performing complete cycles of the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas in chronological order, and these are being recorded live on the ECM label for whom he has been recording since 1997. Other recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music by Janacek, a solo disc of Schumann piano pieces, and his second recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations. He has made many recordings over the years - from 1981 to 1994 for Decca, and from 1994 to 1997 for Warner/Teldec.
Since childhood he has enjoyed playing chamber music and from 1989 until 1998 was Artistic Director of the "Musiktage Mondsee" near Salzburg an annual one-week chamber music festival. 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, Italy. In 2004 he became Artist in Residence of the Kunstfest Weimar.
Among other high distinctions, Andras Schiff was awarded the Bartok Prize in 1991; the Claudio Arrau Memorial Medal from the Robert Schumann Society, Dusseldorf in 1994; the Kossuth Prize, the highest Hungarian honour, in 1996; the Leonie Sonnings Music Prize in Copenhagen in 1997; the Palladio d'Oro by the City of Vicenza, and the Musikfest-Preis Bremen (for outstanding international artistic achievement) in 2003. In 2001 he became a British citizen.
Andras Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1953. He began piano lessons at age five with Elisabeth Vadasz and continued his musical studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Professor Pal Kadosa, Gyorgy Kurtag and Ferenc Rados. He also worked with George Malcolm in London.
Today, Schiff occupies a prominent position among the world's leading musicians. Each season, he collaborates with the major orchestras of Europe, North America, Japan and Israel, and appears regularly at the festivals of Salzburg, Vienna, Lucerne, Ansbach and Feldkirch. Recitals and special projects take him to all of the international music capitals and include cycles of the major keyboard works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Bartok. Schiff also founded his own ensemble, the Cappella Andrea Barca, to perform all of Mozart's Piano concertos at the Mozartwoche of the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg; this project will run until 2005. Over the next few seasons, the focus of Schiff's orchestral activities will be conducting programs of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart from the keyboard.
From 1989 to 1998, Andras Schiff was founder and artistic director of "Musiktage Mondsee," an annual chamber music festival which takes place for one week each summer near Salzburg. He is presently joint artistic director of the Festival of Ittingen, Switzerland, a chamber music festival he founded with Heinz Holliger in 1995, and a series at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.
Andras Schiff has established a prolific discography, including recordings for ECM New Series, Teldec and London/Decca. His many awards and prizes have included the Bartok Prize in 1991 and the "Claudio Arrau Memorial Medal" from the Robert Schumann Society in Dusseldorf in 1994. In March 1996 Andras Schiff was awarded the highest Hungarian distinction, the "Kossuth Prize" and in May 1997, he received the "Leonie Sonnings Music Prize" in Copenhagen.
His previous ECM releases are "Music for Two Pianos" (with Peter Serkin, performances of music by Mozart, Reger and Busoni) and the Schubert Fantasies D 760 and D 934 (with Yukio Shiokawa).