Sir András Schiff is world-renowned as a pianist, conductor, and lecturer. Born in Budapest, he studied at the Liszt Academy with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm.
Recitals and special cycles, including the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann and Bartók, form an important part of his activities. Since 2004 he has performed complete cycles of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas in 20 cities.
He has worked with most of the major international orchestras and conductors, but nowadays mostly play-directs. In 1999 he founded his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca.
In 2014 Sir András Schiff was bestowed a Knighthood for services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
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Video & Audio
From The Green Room
29 Aug 18 BACH The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall
“Schiff found new energy and clarity, always offering his audience a string through the musical maze.”
“Here was all of life, and it was exhilarating, confronting and, ultimately, consoling – a musical meditation for our troubled times.”
04 Jul 18 Schiff's Surprise Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
“Joy untrammelled coursed through the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s all-Haydn concert […] with its new principal artist, András Schiff.”
“He gave ample support to the excellent soloists and lean Choir of the Age of Enlightenment in the late Harmoniemesse (1804). Schiff’s own powers of expression and humour let fly in the Piano Concerto No 11 in D (1784), with all its trills, snaps, quips and Hungarian Gypsy fire. You’d pay to hear this man play the spoons.”
“The magic continued in Haydn’s endearing Piano Concerto No 11, set on its way by the first violinist, Kati Debretzeni, with Schiff at the keys of his sleek modern fortepiano.”
“[Schiff] offered very neat fingering and a funny cadenza of his own, impishly echoing the symphony’s Andante.”
08 Jan 18 "Late Brahms" Recital Wigmore Hall, London
“Schiff himself has now reached a serene plateau in life where he no longer needs to prove anything; for him each recital is simply a chance to revisit often-played works, and to hold them up to the light in ways which can gently surprise.”
07 Sep 17 BACH The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall
“It was one of those unforgettable revelations.”
” […] this was the most riveting performance of the work I have ever heard”
“Schiff recovers the truth of this music in Bach’s time and sets it free to speak to ours.”
30 Nov 16 Bach, Bartók, Janáček, Schumann Recital: 29 November 2016 Wigmore Hall, London
“Schiff’s Bach is an engaging blend of the cerebral and the dance-like, the left hand building up sturdy rhythms, the right weaving intricate patterns around them.
If anything, Bartók’s fractured rhythms and broken articulations were even more convincing. Moments of almost lullaby-like repose were swept away by passages of mock solemnity…
Schumann’s cycle very deliberately plays up the antithetical nature of the composer’s character, on the one hand gentle and musing, on the other skittish and boisterous. Schiff made the most of the mood-swings, nicely pointing up moments where the contrasts fused into an organic whole. He really is a thinking pianist.”
07 Apr 16 Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert 'Last Sonatas': 6 April 2016 Wigmore Hall, London
“The Haydn and Mozart were immaculate performances, played with consummate musicality, using a palette of wonderfully translucent colours; the Beethoven was simply immense, with its first movement given a sense of unease by the edgy insistence of the left hand, and the final fugue built to a climax of huge power and glorious radiance.”
“… the Mozart was genial, spacious yet intimate, with few storms to disturb its good nature and some piquant dialogue between the hands. The Haydn was a fleeting six minutes of wit and bonhomie.
The Bach which András Schiff played for an encore, brilliant in its elegant simplicity, was as refreshing as a glass of iced water after a slice of rich Sachertorte.”
19 Nov 15 'Last Sonatas': 19 November 2015 Bath Mozartfest, Assembly Rooms Bath
“András Schiff played his ‘Last Sonatas’ programme, which he has toured internationally for the past year, bringing drama and surprise to Haydn’s E flat Hob XVI:52; wrestling with the turbulence and eventual release of Beethoven’s Op 111 in C minor; finding gleaming clarity in the contrapuntal dialogues of Mozart’s K576 in D. This was Schiff at his ordinary best, in itself pretty extraordinary. Then he moved into a different realm of otherworldliness. His delivery of Schubert’s enormous D960 in B flat, ethereal, with bursts of fire, defies description. I’ve heard him play this work often enough. This time it was as if he were alone, communing with Schubert in some great beyond, and we were the lucky eavesdroppers.”
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 29 November 2015
“This is a programme Schiff has toured over the past season, and his mastery of this Classical repertoire is second to none. He was robust and unsentimental in Haydn’s E Flat Sonata H XVI:52, choosing spacious yet grounded tempos. This is one of the final three sonatas written while the Austrian composer was visiting London in 1794, and Schiff’s performance suggested that Haydn wasn’t just the father of the symphony and the string quartet. Beethoven in C minor mood followed: gruff and unforgiving. Schiff brought determined force to the first movement and found infinite subtleties in the second, final movement, taking us from the ground to the heavens.
In the second half, the music remained on this higher plane. Schiff brought a dewy lyricism to Mozart’s Sonata in D major, K576 (1789), paving the way for Schubert’s Sonata in B flat major. This was a towering performance of songful serenity and unsettled undercurrents, powerful in its moods but light in its touch and articulation. Hovering between the earthly and the eternal, Schiff’s Schubert touched transcendence.”
10 Nov 15 Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Sir András Schiff, 10 November 2015 Royal Festival Hall, London
“Only rarely does a concert of familiar repertoire, that could be enjoyable but rather run of the mill, catch you by surprise and make you hear the music in a new way. Last night, András Schiff and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment exceeded this, in performances that were truly revelatory (an overused phrase, but in this case entirely appropriate). In his brief entertaining words before the Schumann, he invited us to open our minds and listen as if it were the première – and indeed their performance was as fresh and uncluttered by tradition as if we were hearing it for the first time.”
Nick Boston, Bachtrack, 11 November 2015
27 Apr 15 Schubert: Sonatas, Impromptus, Moments Musicaux ECM Records
“I cannot think of anyone of his calibre who has mastered the fortepiano as well as the modern piano and shown such distinction on both. In Schubert he has a claim to be considered sovereign amount today’s players.”Recording of the month
“András Schiff has decided to present a judiciously varied mixture of sonatas and character pieces on an 1820 Viennese fortepiano made by Franz Brodmann. The results are totally captivating and shed new light on such familiar music.”Recording of the month
Why my Goldberg Variations do a dance with the devil
András Schiff is due to perform JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Proms, but is he playing the wrong instrument in the wrong hall to the wrong audience? Here he argues against his most infernal critic:
The devil’s advocate: On 22nd August 2015 you will be performing J.S.Bach’s “Goldberg-variations” at the Royal Albert Hall. Have you lost your wits?
András Schiff: No,I certainly haven’t. The RAH is a magnificent auditorium, very large but full of character, history and tradition. The atmosphere at the Proms is absolutely unique, thanks to the quality and concentration of the audience.
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