András Schiff, Piano

Biography

Born in Budapest in 1953, Sir András Schiff studied piano at the Liszt Ferenc Academy with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados; and in London with George Malcolm. Having collaborated with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, he now focuses primarily on solo recitals, play-directing and conducting.

Since 2004 Sir András has performed the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas in over twenty cities, including Zurich where the cycle was recorded live for ECM. Other acclaimed recordings for the label include solo recitals of Schubert, Schumann and Janáček, alongside J.S. Bach’s Partitas, Goldberg Variations and Well-Tempered Clavier.

In recent years his Bach has become an annual highlight of the BBC Proms. Elsewhere, he regularly performs at the Verbier, Salzburg and Baden-Baden festivals; the Wigmore Hall, Musikverein and Philharmonie de Paris; on tour in North America and Asia; and in Vicenza, Italy where he curates a festival at the Teatro Olimpico.

Vicenza is also home to Cappella Andrea Barca – a chamber orchestra consisting of international soloists, chamber musicians and friends he founded in 1999. Together they have appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lucerne Festival and Salzburg Mozartwoche; while forthcoming projects include a tour of Asia and a cycle of Bach’s keyboard concertos in Europe.

Sir András also enjoys a close relationship with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Budapest Festival Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age Enlightenment. In 2018 he accepted the role of Associate Artist with the OAE, complementing his interest in performing on period keyboard instruments.

He continues to support new talent, primarily through his “Building Bridges” series which gives performance opportunities to promising young artists. He also teaches at the Barenboim-Said and Kronberg academies and gives frequent lectures and masterclasses. In 2017 his book “Music Comes from Silence”, essays and conversations with Martin Meyer, was published by Bärenreiter and Henschel.

Sir András Schiff’s many honours include the International Mozarteum Foundation’s Golden Medal (2012), Germany’s Great Cross of Merit with Star (2012), the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal (2013), a Knighthood for Services to Music (2014) and a Doctorate from the Royal College of Music (2018).

Calendar
Repertoire
Review
6 hearts: Ingenious pianist must simply be from another planet
Politiken
Mon, 2020-10-12
Like a monk arriving from a world other than this, pianist András Schiff took the audience on a journey. Within the most ascetic setting, he unfolded the music ingeniously (...) He's not from this planet, pianist András Schiff. He simply can not be, as he played solo in the Concert Hall on Sunday night for a - according to the current conditions - very large audience of about 500.
Rolling and precise piano interpretations
Göteborgsposten
Mon, 2013-02-11
The Hungarian András Schiff is a pianist of the old school. A full-fledged virtuoso but also a creating musician - like an experienced improviser he lets the playing be created in the moment. The music by Beethoven and Schumann becomes genuinely exciting. The phrases live and change in a fascinating and unpredictable way during the playing. A good example is the way the intrusive energies in Beethoven's Piano Sonata i d-minor (op.31, no. 2) draws their force from the silence of the initial broken cord. By every time they return, with different colours and sound formations, the silence thickens. Schiff performs the sonata as if it consisted of only one arc, from the beginning to the end. It is very impressive. The concert programme is created intricately, with two Beethoven sonatas (apart from the Piano Sonata i d-minor also Waldstein) set against Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze and Kreisleriana. The virtuoso playing sounds a bit fantasy-like, in the spirit of the Beethoven admirer ETA. Hoffmann, whose horror stories and romantic aestetics was the base of Schumann's suite about the conductor Kreisler. This is how one enters the rolling and precise interpretations of Schiff. Everything is clear and sharp and at the same time the fever visions are present as are the bizarre twists when the playing goes faster and faster until it suddenly becomes "folk song" mild, fragilely listening. Every second is loaded to the breaking point. By: Magnus Haglund
The Concert of the Year
Göteborgs-Posten
Fri, 2011-04-15
It was the concert of the year, if you ask me. The Hungarian pianist András Schiff, one of the best piano virtuosos of our time performed an exceptionally rich programme: Five pieces of variations by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Haydn and Schumann, topped with Beethoven's exceptionally difficult Diabelli Variations. It is rare to hear such a consistently performed and challenging programme, at least in our part of the world. But then András Schiff is an exceptionally knowledgeable and boundary seeking musician, which he has proved with his recent recording of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, surprisingly free and improvising in expression. It is as though the music is released of its majestic weight without losing the revolutionary heart. In the first half of the concert Schiff does a glittering performance of Mendelssohn's Variations Sérieuses and Schumann's Theme and Variations, the latter is a series of peculiarly introvert and soaring sound improvisations composed immediately before the composer's mental breakdown in 1854. Schiff brings forward the possibilities of experiment which the variations offer, but also the classicism and concentration of the musical form. There is knife sharp precision in the details but also freedom in the rhythm. It belongs to Schiff's mastery and puts him above other pianists that he succeeds in showing the streams of energy in the music and bring the long lines forward. This is abundantly clear in the Diabelli Variations. He manifests the metaphysical magic with brick laid on brick, and suddenly one hears how the future is present, from Chopin and Liszt to Debussy and Schönberg. Why, even Jerry Lee Lewis shimmers by in a passage with a strangely throbbing right hand. But an entire concert with an infinite number of variations built on simple themes, is it not boring? No, not in the least. The world appears clear and manifold with its lightness in the powerful and weightlessness in the profound. Magnus Haglund
Top Marks For an Ingenious Bach Recording
Politiken
Tue, 2009-10-27
'When does a CD deserve six hearts? Given in pure admiration without reservations? One suggestion could be: When the interpreter gilts the present and cancels out all contradictions. When clarity, warmth, play and perspective form a higher unity, so the angels for a moment leave their trumpets in order to enjoy the music. András Schiff's new Bach recording is up there. There is sweetness in the approach. A small smile, which often is replaced by an intense gesture without removing focus from the music.'
To Heaven
Berlingske Tidende
Fri, 2009-10-30
András Schiff surpasses himself and everybody else: His recording of Bach's partitas is one of this year's best recordings. He not only plays superbly. The now 55 year old viruoso with hair á la Art Garfunkel plays better than ever'. ...'One can hear these slightly complicated pearling rows of tones for days on end and still discover something new. And one can emphasize something special in almost every one of the 41 pieces. Take only the opening of Partita no. 4: It is pompous like the sun king in stilletos. And it is astoundingly full of colours and contrasts and captivating drama. This is how J.S. Bach is transformed from a horisontal engine to vertical lightning between heaven and earth'.
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