András Schiff emerged in the last decades of the 20th century as one of the most respected pianists of his generation. He began piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász, and made his debut at the age of nine. At 14 Schiff began formal studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Professor Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados. Later he studied with British conductor and keyboard player George Malcolm in London.
András Schiff came to international prominence as a prizewinner at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1974; over the next few years, he also took top honors at the Leeds (1975) and Liszt International Piano Competitions, launching him on a successful concert and recording career. Recitals and special projects take him to all of the international music capitals and include cycles of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach, Haydn, W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, Schubert, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, Béla Bartók, Debussy, and Ravel. In 2004, he began a series of performances that explore the 32 L.v. Beethoven piano sonatas in chronological order - a project to be recorded live for ECM New Series and released in September of 2005. The L.v. Beethoven Sonata Project will be repeated throughout North America commencing the 2007-2008 season. His playing has been singled out for its complete technical fluency and intelligent musicality. His concert career 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, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Heinz Holliger, Peter Serkin, Peter Schreier, Robert Holl, and Cecilia Bartoli.
In the late 1990's, András Schiff added conducting to his list of talents, frequently conducting from the keyboard in concerto concerts. In 1999, he created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, for a seven-year series of the complete W.A. Mozart piano concertos, taking place at the Mozartwoche of the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg. The group, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians and close friends, will tour North America during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons in a series of concerts slated for Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall to commemorate the 250th anniversary of W.A. Mozart's death. The six concerts will include twelve of the W.A. Mozart piano concerti, chamber music and symphonies.
In October 2005, András Schiff embarks on an extensive recital tour throughout North America with performances in New York, Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Vancouver, Seattle, Carmel and Berkeley. He also performs as conductor and soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of Felix Mendelssohn's Sinfonia No. 10 in B minor for String Orchestra, Robert Schumann's Introduction and Allegro Appassionato, Op. 92, Haydn's Concerto for Piano in D and Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major.
During the next few seasons, the focus of András Schiff Schiff's orchestral activities will be conducting programs of J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven and W.A. Mozart from the keyboard. He has annual engagements with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe as conductor and soloist. He is a regular visitor as conductor and soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Budapest Festival Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) and Haydn's Creation with the London Philharmonia Orchestra and was conductor and soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe on a critically acclaimed tour of New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Since childhood, András Schiff has enjoyed playing chamber music and was Artistic Director of the "Musiktage Mondsee," an annual chamber music festival near Salzburg from 1989 until 1998. He is presently joint artistic director of the "Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte," a chamber music festival he founded in Switzerland with Heinz Holliger in 1995. In 1998, he started a similar series entitled "Hommage to Palladio" at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. In September 2004 he became artist in residence of "Kunstfest Weimar," a new festival in Germany.
András Schiff has established a prolific discography. After a series of recordings for the Hungarian label Hungaroton, he 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 W.A. 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 W.A. Mozart sonatas. As a Decca/London artist, he also recorded the complete W.A. 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 Schiff¹s recorded repertory; they are uniformly excellent and especially notable for their clean delineation of J.S. Bach's contrapuntal textures. He has established a prolific discography. After the Decca/London period (1981-1994), her recorded for Teldec (1994-1997), and, since 1997, ECM New Series. His recordings for Teldec include works by George Frideric Handel, Johannes Brahms, Max Reger, Haydn, and Hungarian composer Sándor Veress. Recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Janácek, a solo disc of Robert Schumann piano pieces and his second recording of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). He has received several international recording awards, including two Grammy Awards for "Best Classical Instrumental Soloist (Without Orchestra)" for J.S. Bach's English Suites (BWV 806-811) (1989), and "Best Vocal Recording" for Schubert's Schwane with tenor Peter Schreier.
Among other honors, András Schiff was awarded the Bartók Prize in 1991 and the Claudio Arrau Memorial medal from the Robert Schumann Society in Düsseldorf in 1994. In March 1996, he received the highest Hungarian distinction, the Kossuth Prize, and in May 1997 he received the Leonie Sonnings Music Prize in Copenhagen. He was awarded the Palladio d'Oro by the city of Vicenza, and the Musikfest-Preis Bremen for "outstanding international artistic work" in 2003. In 2001 he became a British citizen. He resides in Florence and London and is married to the violinist Yuuko Shiokawa.