Andreas Staier


Born: 1955
Andreas Staier is one of the foremost authentic-instrument keyboard players in the classical music world. His early training was on standard piano. Courses in realizing continuo parts in Baroque music at the Hanover Conservatory led him to study harpsichord to learn the special technique of playing that instrument, which requires a considerably different technique of touch. "I fell in love with the sound of the harpsichord and became passionately enthusiastic about the repertory." He had been familiar with the Johann Sebastian Bach keyboard repertory, because so much of that is played on piano, or transcribed for it. However, study of harpsichord drew him into a repertory not frequently played on piano, going back to the English composers for the small keyboard instrument called the virginal. When he discovered that music he was, he said, "bowled over" by it. He added harpsichord studies to his courses at Hanover, and continued with it in studies in Amsterdam. His primary teachers in harpsichord and early music were Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and Ton Koopman.

His interest in the fortepiano began gradually when he discovered the difference in sound and interpretation that results when that instrument is used for playing composers contemporary with it, especially Mozart and Beethoven. He added fortepiano to his studies, becoming one of the rare classical keyboard players who specializes in harpsichord and fortepiano.

In 1983 he joined Musica Antiqua Köln, a leading small Baroque ensemble, as its harpsichord player. This involved frequent touring to all parts of the world. He resigned from the ensemble in 1986 to embark on his solo career on both harpsichord and fortepiano. He also began teaching harpsichord at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, where he was on the faculty from 1987 to 1996.

He studies the keyboard repertory deeply. His recital programs and recordings include the standard Baroque composers, but also earlier music and Spanish keyboard works. His repertory extends from the English Baroque through the entire Classical period and into the Romantic era, where he plays the piano music of such composers as Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, on harpsichords or pianos appropriate to the times of the music. He looks for important links among compositions of various eras. For instance, he thinks that Beethoven's Diabelli Variations are heard in a different light if one knows Bach's Goldberg Variations which, he says, are similarly illuminated by knowledge of Byrd's variations. (Apropos the Goldberg Variations, he says that while the work is totally suited for the harpsichord, "trying to play it on the piano is like attempting to square the circle.") He waited nearly a quarter of a century to play the Goldberg in public; his long-awaited first performance of it was in Montréal at the end of April 2000.

He frequently works with other renowned artists, including Anner Bylsma, Tatiana Grindenko, René Jacobs, and various important early music ensembles. One of his closest partnerships is with the tenor Christoph Prégardien, who sings with him in the early Romantic and earlier repertory. Their recording of Schubert's Winterreise on Teldec won six major international recording prizes.

He has performed in major festivals and in most of the major concert halls of the world. His repertory consists nearly entirely of seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth century music, aside from a few twentieth century harpsichord pieces and is working on one twenty-first century work. It by Bryce Pauzé, a young French composer, and was especially written for the sound of the fortepiano with modern approaches to rhythm and tone color.

There are 47 Andreas Staier recordings available.

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