Andreas Scholl is one of the world's leading countertenors and is, naturally, one of the best-known performers of Baroque vocal music. He was born in Eltville, Germany and grew up in Kiedrich, in the Rhine region of Germany. His father was the conductor of the Kiedricher Chorbuben (Kiedrich Choir Boys), the second oldest choir in Germany, in existence for over 650 years. Andreas and his siblings Johannes and Elisabeth all sang in the choir, and Andreas therefore began his voice training there from age seven, but very little formal theory instruction.
Andreas was nearly 14 when his voice broke and settled down into a baritone speaking range. However, when the voice firmed up, he found he could still sing soprano parts in the choir. One of the vocal coaches who gave individual singing lessons to the boys soon recognized that Andreas no longer had a boy soprano voice, but a countertenor.
At that point Andreas began listening to recordings of countertenors, especially Alfred Deller and James Bowman. He and one of his school friends joined a rock group and composed music for it. They recorded two singles, neither of which made the charts. Scholl still retains an interest in composing and loves popular music.
Scholl began to think of singing as a career, and as a countertenor realized most of his opportunities would include early music. He attended the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basle, Switzerland, one of the centers of older music studies, from 1987 to 1993. He soon overcame deficiencies in his theory and ear training preparation. He was a student of Richard Levitt and René Jacobs. He also had the benefit of interpretation classes with Emma Kirkby, Anthony Rooley, and Evelyn Tubb.
In 1993 his teacher René Jacobs fell ill and was unable to keep a concert commitment at the Théâtre de Grévin in France and recommended Scholl as his replacement. Scholl scored a major success in what amounted to his professional debut on an important international stage. He appeared with Jacobs in a live broadcast concert of Bach's St. John Passion. Going home on the train the night of the concert he met William Christie, a leading early music conductor, who had attended the concert and invited Scholl to sing on his planned recording of Handel's Messiah. The record was a great success and led to an extensive recording career.
He began exclusively as a concert singer, singing with the leading early music groups of Europe and elsewhere. It was not until 1998 that he first appeared in opera when he portrayed Bertarido in Handel's Rodelinda at the Glyndebourne Festival in England.
Along the way he won the Conseil de L'Europe and Claude Nicolas Ledoux Foundation awards in 1992. He has won numerous recording prizes, including a Gramophone Award for Vivaldi's Stabat Mater in 1996 and Caldara's Maddelena ai piedi di Cristo in 1997 for Best Baroque Vocal. In 1998 he won the Cannes Classical Award for a disc of German Baroque cantatas. He won the ECHO Classic Award in 1999, and in 1998 was the German Kultur Radio Artist of the Year. In December 1999, he sang at the Belgian royal wedding. In addition to continuing his concert and operatic career, Andreas Scholl has returned to the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis to teach as the successor to his instructor Richard Levitt.