Schiff was born in Budapest on December 21, 1953, and studied with Hungarian composer Pal Kadosa
and Ferenc Rados (both of whom also taught Kocsis
and Ránki), and English harpsichordist George Malcolm
. He made his debut in Budapest at the age of 19, following it with concert appearances throughout Europe and the United States. His reputation grew with prizewinning performances at the 1974 Moscow competition and the 1975 Leeds Festival.
His association with the Salzburg Festival led him to a long collaboration with the teacher, violinist, and conductor Sándor Végh, with whom Schiff recorded the complete piano concertos of Mozart
. He also collaborated with the older musician in a violin-piano duo. In 1989, Schiff founded his own chamber music festival at Mondsee near Salzburg. In addition, 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 style, in which an unusually sensitive touch is combined with an alertness to contrapuntal clarity, has made him one of the foremost Bach
interpreters of the day. He has recorded the complete keyboard music of Bach
, as well as the complete sonatas and sonata fragments of Franz Schubert
, whose introspective keyboard music is well suited to Schiff's temperament. He completed a Beethoven
sonata cycle on ECM
in 2009, and he was awarded the 2011 Schumann Prize by the city of Zwickau for his interpretation and promotion of Schumann
's music. In 2001, Schiff began revisiting and re-recording the works of Bach
. In addition to the expected middle-European Romantic works, the music of Béla Bartók
and Leos Janácek
figure prominently in Schiff's repertoire. Schiff is married to violinist Yuuko Shiokawa, who teaches at the Salzburg Mozarteum.