The German organist, harpsichordist, conductor, pedagogue, and composer, Hanns-Martin Schneidt, made his first steps in music at the age of ten, as a member of the Thomanerchor Leipzig. He was taught piano and musical theory by Günther Ramin. He then proceeded to study conducting, composition, organ and musicology at the Munich Music Academy and University from 1949 to 1952. His teachers there were under Karl Höller, Friedrich Högner, Kurt Eichhorn, Li Stadelmann and Maria Landes-Hindemith. From 1952 he attended the lectures on musicology given by Rudolf von Ficker.
Even before he had finished his studies, Hanns-Martin Schneidt was appointed choirmaster and organist at the Erlöserkirche in Munich. In 1954 he won the Richard Strauss Prize of the City of Munich. Already at age 25, in 1955 he went to Berlin and took over the direction of the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule. About at the same time he became the founder and artistic director of the Bach-Collegium Berlin and of the Bach-Chor Berlin at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche, and conducted also the Spandauer Kantorei. The year 1960 saw his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to the Berlin Philharmonic, he had several engagements with a number of other major German orchestras, including the Münchner Philharmoniker and the German Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1963 he was honored with the Berlin Art Academy Prize. In the same year he became senior director of music at Wüppertal, being appointed chief musical director there in 1975, which position he continued to occupy till 1985. From 1971 to 1978 he was professor of orchestral direction at the Hamburg College of Music. He worked regularly with the Regensburger Domspatzen.
After the sudden death of Karl Richter in 1984, Hanns-Martin Schneidt took over as artistic director of the Münchener Bach-Chor und Orchester (the Munich Bach Choir & Orchestra). At the same time, he was appointed as permanent director at the Bavaria National Opera Theater and also became active in opera elsewhere, at such institutions as the Munich Opera (regular guest conductor), Berlin National Opera Theater (in former East Berlin) and the Berlin German Opera (in the former West Berlin). In 1985 he was appointed as professor of orchestral direction and Protestant church music at the Munich College of Music. In April, 2001 he retired from his position of the general artistic director of Münchener Bach-Chor and has since been appointed as the honorary artistic director.
In 1990 Hanns-Martin Schneidt visited Japan with the Berlin National Opera Theater, and at that occasion conducted Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Hall. This was followed by a 1994 Japan tour with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra to perform some Brahms symphonies, to great public acclaim. And in 1995 he became the musical director of the National German Youth Orchestra (DMO) that nowadays is drawing such wide attention. The year 1997 saw the establishment of the Schneidt Bach Choir Tokyo, this in close cooperation with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Hanns-Martin Schneidt became the new Choir's artistic director. In February (Tokyo) and July (Yokohama) in 1998, he conducted in performances of Haydn's Creation Oratorio, again to great acclaim (live recordings are now available on CD). In March and October, 1999 he came to Japan for performances of Bach's Mass in B-Minor (BWV 232) and Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem respectively. On April 30 and May 2, 2000, he conducted in the performance of Bach Mass in B-Minor (BWV 232) by Schneidt Bach Choir at Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu/Hawaii, USA with Honolulu Symphony to commemorate the Symphony's 100th Anniversary. On Dec 14, 2000, he conducted Schneidt Bach Choir in the performance of George Frideric Handel's The Messiah at Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall in Yokohama, Japan. On November 13, 2001, J. S. Bach's Johannes Passion (BWV 245) at Tokyo Operacity Concert Hall..
The recordings of performances under Hanns-Martin Schneidt include several with the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra, as well as with the Choir of Regensburg Cathedral.
In 1998, the City of Berlin honoured Hanns-Martin Schneidt with a special prize for his meritorious services in his work with the DMO German National Youth Orchestra.
Hanns-Martin Schneidt can be ranked amongst the major leaders in the current German musical scene, because of the width and depth of his musical reach and the respect he has gained as a practitioner of the traditional style of musical interpretation. He wrote a number of choral works.