Biss was born on September 18, 1980, in Bloomington, IN. Ironically, he comes from a distinguished family of string players: his grandmother was Raya Garbousova, the cellist who inspired Samuel Barber
to compose his Cello Concerto; his mother is the well-known violinist Miriam Fried and his father the violinist/violist Paul Biss. Young Jonathan took his first piano lessons at the age of 6 from teacher Karen Taylor.
At 11 he began studies at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart, and then three years later (1994) won the concerto competitions held by the Indianapolis and Bloomington symphony orchestras, two ensembles with whom Biss then appeared in performances of the Mendelssohn
G minor Piano Concerto.
In 1997 Biss concluded his instruction with Brancart and began studying with Leon Fleisher
at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Biss appeared that same year at Wolf Trap with Isaac Stern
and there accepted the Shouse Debut Artist Award from him. The following year Biss began appearing as soloist with several of the more important American orchestras, including the Baltimore and Seattle symphony orchestras, and the Buffalo and Rochester philharmonic orchestras.
In 1999 Biss was presented with an Avery Fisher career grant, and after the aforementioned triumphs in 2000, he was invited to return to New York for further engagements at prominent concert venues, including with the New York Philharmonic
. Over the next few years he appeared with most of the leading American orchestras, including those in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, and also played with numerous orchestras abroad, including the Staatskapelle Berlin
(under Daniel Barenboim
) and the Essen Philharmonic. Biss' first recording was released in 2005 on EMI and included works by Beethoven