The German counter-tenor, Andreas Scholl, was born in Eltville-am-Rhein, and grew up in the neighbouring village of Kiedrich im Rheingau near Wiesbaden. There he was a member of the 600-year old Kiedricher Chorbuben, along with several members of his family including his sister, the soprano Elisabeth Scholl. He first sang the music of J S Bach at the age of seven. The children learnt Ďby earí and Scholl did not begin to read music until his late teens. Aged thirteen, he was selected from 20,000 choristers at a Rome festival to sing solo in St Peterís Basilica before Pope John Paul 11. At seventeen he was still singing soprano, having Ďsung through the breakí, although his speaking voice had by then long been baritone. He was identified as a countertenor by the Chorbuben's voice coach who sent him to tenor/countertenor Herbert Klein. Klein advised him that he should study in London or at Baselís Schola Cantorum Basiliensis which, until then, had never accepted undergraduates. Scholl was auditioned and accepted on the recommendation of René Jacobs, then teaching at the Schola. He obtained his Diploma in Ancient Music six years later having studied with Richard Levitt and taken specialist classes with René Jacobs, Emma Kirkby, Anthony Rooley, Evelyn Tubb and Chiara Banchini among others. James Bowman was his external examiner for graduation. He received awards from the Conseil d'Europe, the Fondation Claude Nicolas Ledoux, the Association Migros and the Ernst Göhner Foundation.
The partnership between Harmonia Mundi France and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis to document previously unrecorded early music resulted in a series of recordings directed by René Jacobs in which Andreas Scholl participated. They include Antonio Vivaldiís Stabat Mater and Antonio Caldaraís Maddalena ai Piedi di Cristo both of which received multiple awards and achieved lasting commercial success, although it was William Christieís 1994 HM recording of George Frideric Handelís Messiah which launched Scholl as a major artist. By 1998, he dominated Harmonia Mundi's sales with CDs at numbers one, three, four, five and ten in their inventory, recordings which remain among their best sellers. In 1999 Andreas Scholl signed with Decca, the contract being renewed in 2004. For Deutsche Grammophon, he has sung G.F. Handelís Solomon and David in Saul, under Paul McCreesh. Schollís personal accolades include the Diapason d'Or, multiple Gramophone Awards, 10 de Repertoire, ffff Telerama and Choc du Mond de la Musique, the ECHO award and Prix de l'Union de la Presse Musicale Belge. In a unique departure from its customarily austere approach, Fanfare magazine described his recording of Dowland's A Musicall Banquet (2000) as 'perfect'.
Andreas Scholl has sung with conductors Paul Dyer, John Eliot Gardiner, Reinhard Goebel, Christopher Hogwood, Konrad Junghänel, Robert King, Nicholas McGegan, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Roger Norrington, Christophe Rousset, Jos van Veldhoven, Dominique Vellard and Roland Wilson among others. His regular solo partners include harpsichordist Markus Märkl and lutenist Crawford Young who succeeded Schollís long-time lutenist, the late Karl-Ernst Schröder. Ensembles with which he performs include the Nederlandse Bachvereniging, Cantus Cölln, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Musica Antiqua Köln, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Freiburger Barockorchester, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and, recently, Accademia Bizantina which is now his regular orchestra for recording. Composer Marco Rosano is creating a new Stabat Mater for Andreas Scholl. In popular music, his hobby, Andreas Scholl works with rock composer and baroque counter-tenor Roland Kunz. He is regularly commissioned to write music for theatre and ballet.
In opera, Andreas Scholl has sung the role of Bertarido in G.F. Handel's Rodelinda (Glyndebourne, 1998, 1999, 2002) and the title role in G.F. Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto in the Royal Danish Opera production of 2002 (revived 2005) under Lars Ulrik Mortensen.
Andreas Scholl teaches interpretation in the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, succeeding his own teacher, Richard Levitt. His mantra is 'Lieber erstmal Lieder'. In 2004, he was a judge at Belgium's Queen Elisabeth Concours, and other competitions.
Andreas Scholl has recorded several Bach cantatas including all those written for the solo alto voice, the CD of which remains his most popular, as well as the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), the St John (BWV 245) and St Matthew Passions (BWV 244) (Philippe Herreweghe) and the Weinachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) (René Jacobs). He is invited to teach a mastercourse on Bach cantatas at the Britten-Pears School, England. Johann Sebastian Bach is the composer whose work Scholl finds the most challenging and most rewarding. After recording one of Bach's solo cantatas for alto, he wept. 'The piece was so mighty, I felt like an ant.'
For Scholl, the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) is the apogee of J.S. Bach's religious composition; above all, the Agnus Dei, which he believes is the greatest single work written for the counter-tenor voice.