András Schiff emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century as one of the most respected pianists of his generation. After studies with Elisabeth Vadasz, Schiff made his debut at the age of nine. At 14 Schiff began formal studies at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, where he studied with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtag, and Ferenc Rados; later, he studied with British conductor and keyboard player George Malcolm in London.
Schiff came to international prominence as a prizewinner in the 1974 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow; over the next few years, he also took top honors at the Leeds and Liszt Competitions, launching him on a successful concert and recording career. After a series of recordings for the Hungarian label Hungaroton, Schiff made a recording -- as an accompanist for Hungarian soprano Sylvia Sass -- for Decca. That recording's producer, Christopher Raeburn, was so impressed by Schiff's musicianship that he engaged the pianist for a project to record the Mozart piano sonatas then missing from Decca's catalogue. The results were so outstanding that Decca continued the series until Schiff produced the label's first integral set of Mozart sonatas. As a Decca/London artist, Schiff also recorded the complete Mozart piano concertos, much of the composer's chamber music, and many of the keyboard works of J.S. Bach. The last are a cornerstone of Schiff¹s recorded repertory; they are uniformly excellent and especially notable for their clean delineation of Bach's contrapuntal textures. In tandem with his work in the studio, Schiff has pursued a concert career that includes appearances with the world's major orchestras and conductors. On the recital stage, he has successfully collaborated with such notables as Gidon Kremer, Yuuko Shiokawa (who became his wife), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Heinz Holliger, Peter Serkin, Peter Schreier, Robert Holl, and Cecilia Bartoli. In the late 1990s, he added conducting to his list of talents, frequently conducting from the keyboard in concerto concerts. In order to perform all of Mozart's piano concertos in Salzburg over a period of seven years, he formed his own ensemble, Cappella Andrea Barca, in 1999.
Schiff's playing has been singled out for its complete technical fluency and intelligent musicality; in addition to the composers mentioned above, he is especially well known for his performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók, Debussy, and Ravel. Among his post-competition honors are a Grammy Award (1989) and Hungary's highest artistic distinction, the Kossuth Prize (1996). In the 1990s he became a Teldec Artist; his recordings for the label include works by Handel, Brahms, Reger, Haydn, and Hungarian composer Sándor Veress. After leaving Teldec he joined ECM, for whom he has made several recordings of Beethoven sonatas.