The German-born guitarist, Stephan Schmidt, received a classical training at Trossingen, Paris and New York (crowned by his winning of First Prize for Interpretation at the Thirtieth International Guitar Competition organised by Radio-France in Paris in 1988). Later his artistic work was decisively influenced by his meeting with the composer Maurice Ohana and his discovery, in 1983, of the latter's music for tenstring guitar.
Stephan Schmidt is regarded as one of the most innovative guitarists of the present day His repertoire is now based on two different aspects: the performance of masterpieces by great composers, such as J.S. Bach, Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough and Bruno Maderna, and work in collaboration with other artists from very different aesthetic worlds, as exemplified in his concerts with Pedro Bacan (flamenco guitar), Fred Frith (electric guitar), Ivan Monighetti (Cello), Elisabeth Chojnacka (harpsichord), Juliane Banse (voice), Heinz Holliger (Oboe), Mats Scheidegger (guitar), David Moss (voive-performance) and many others.
From 1988 until 2001 Stephan Schmidt was teaching at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Bern (Switzerland). In 1998 he was appointed artistic director in charge of master-classes at the Conservatoire in Bern which became the Freie Akademie der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Bern. He has organised and directed many artistic and interdisciplinary meetings, including a week devoted to 'Russian Music in the Twentieth Century' in 1999, to which he invited an icon of 20th-century Russian music, the composer Galina Ustvolskaya. Since 2002 he has been working as director and teacher at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel - Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel in Switzerland.
Stephan Schmidt's recording of of Maurice Ohana's complete works for guitar (on the ten-string guitar) earned him the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros, as well as an award at the French Victoires de la Musique in 1994. His recording (in 2000) of J.S. Bach's lute works (original versions) played on a multi-string guitar has been called the "a new reference recording of Bach's luteworks on the guitar" by Fono Forum and has received multiple 5-star ratings (BBC Music Magazine, Classic CD), praises and awards (Diapason d’Or, etc.)