András Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953. He began piano lessons at age five with Elisabeth Vadász, continuing his studies at the Franz Liszt Academy with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm. Mr. Schiff made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 1984 and performed with the Orchestra most recently in 2001. This season, Mr. Schiff embarks on The Bach Project in North America, including six Bach recitals and an orchestral week with Mr. Schiff at the piano and on the podium. This month’s San Francisco concerts are part of the complete project, which will visit major US concert halls, and individual recitals will be presented in Vancouver, Seattle, Washington DC, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, Boston, and Toronto. Also part of the complete project are Mr. Schiff’s performances here in April of Bach’s English and French suites.
Mr. Schiff’s relationship with the music of J.S. Bach is well established. In 2006 he and the music publisher G. Henle began collaborating on Mozart and Bach editions. To date both volumes of The Well-Tempered Clavier have been edited in the Henle original text with fingerings by Mr. Schiff. In 2007 he was presented with The Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize—an annual award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the performance or scholarly study of Bach.
András Schiff has worked with most of the major international orchestras and conductors, but now he performs mainly as 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 Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Since 1997 Mr. Schiff has been an exclusive artist for ECM New Series and its producer, Manfred Eicher. His recordings for the label include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janáček, two solo discs of Schumann, and his second recordings of the Bach partitas and Goldberg Variations. He has just released a new ECM recording of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. He earned two Grammy® awards for his recordings of Bach’s English Suites and Schubert’s Schwanengesang, and he is recording Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations for release in 2013.
During the 2011-12 season Mr. Schiff was named one of its Perspectives artists by Carnegie Hall, where he programmed twelve concerts focusing on Béla Bartók. His many honors include the Golden Mozart-Medaille from the International Stiftung Mozarteum, Italy’s “Premio della critica musicale Franco Abbiati,” the 2009 Klavier-Festival Ruhr Prize, and the 2011 Schumann Prize awarded by the city of Zwickau. In 2006 Mr. Schiff became an honorary member of the Beethoven House in Bonn in recognition of his interpretations of Beethoven’s works. He has also been named an honorary professor by music schools in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich.