Performance Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | 8 PM

András Schiff

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
"András Schiff would make Bach proud," proclaimed New York magazine of one of his recent performances. In fact, "there is nothing more reliable in the world of classical music today than pianist András Schiff playing Bach" (The New York Times). The peerless pianist comes to Carnegie Hall to perform one of the composer’s most beloved series of keyboard works, the Goldberg Variations, as well as its counterpart from the Classical period, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations.


  • András Schiff, Piano


  • BACH Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
  • BEETHOVEN Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120

  • Encore:
  • BEETHOVEN Arietta from Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately three hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • András Schiff

    András Schiff is renowned and acclaimed as a pianist, conductor, pedagogue, and lecturer. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953, Mr. Schiff started piano lessons at age five with Elisabeth Vadász. He continued his musical studies at the Liszt Academy of Music with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm.

    Indisputably one of the most prominent proponents of Bach's keyboard works, Mr. Schiff has long proclaimed that Bach stands at the core of his music making. Through November 2013, he continues his two-season endeavor The Bach Project, returning to North America with six Bach recitals and a week of orchestral music by Bach, Schumann, and Mendelssohn with Mr. Schiff at the piano and on the podium. The project includes visits to San Francisco's Symphony Hall, supported by the San Francisco Symphony; Los Angeles's Disney Hall, supported by the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and New York City in partnership with the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, 92nd Street Y, and Great Performers at Lincoln Center. Mr. Schiff's final recitals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, and New York include Beethoven's Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli following Bach's Goldberg Variations. He will also play this monumental program at London's Wigmore Hall to celebrate his 60th birthday. 

    Mr. Schiff has established a prolific discography, and since 1997 has been an exclusive artist for ECM New Series and its producer Manfred Eicher. His recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janáček, two solo albums of Schumann piano pieces, his second recordings of Bach's partitas and Goldberg Variations, The Well-Tempered Clavier, and Beethoven's Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli recorded on two instruments: a Bechstein from 1921 and an original 1820 Viennese fortepiano, originating in the place and time of the composition.

    Mr. Schiff has worked with all the major international orchestras and conductors, but now performs mainly as conductor and recitalist. In 1999, he created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians, and friends. He also works each year with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. From 2004 to 2007, he was artist-in-residence at the Kunstfest Weimar. During the 2007-2008 season, he was pianist in residence at the Berliner Philharmoniker.

    In spring 2011, Mr. Schiff attracted attention because of his opposition to the Hungarian media law; in view of the ensuing attacks on him from some Hungarian nationalists, he has made the decision not to perform in or return to his home country.

    Mr. Schiff is an honorary professor at music schools in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich, and is a special supernumerary fellow of Balliol College in Oxford.

    More Info


Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 ("Aria")
András Schiff, Piano

At a Glance

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH  Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

The Goldberg Variations is a monumental work, displaying superior compositional craft through a tight-knit formal framework. Every third variation is a canon at a progressively larger interval: Variation 3 at the unison, Variation 6 at the second, Variation 9 at the third, and so on. Since Bach composed the work for harpsichord, these knotty variations are usually written for two separate manuals on the instrument, thereby necessitating much hand-crossing and overlapping when played on the modern piano.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120

In 1819, publisher Anton Diabelli asked several Austro-Hungarian composers to pen one or two variations on a waltz that he had written. Beethoven boorishly declined, commenting that the waltz was nothing more than a simplistic stringing-together of clichés. Yet he must have recognized its potential for adaptation when he returned to the waltz three years later, planning to write a handful of variations but ending up with no fewer than 33. The flabbergasted Diabelli decided to publish the set on its own, declaring it "a great and important masterpiece worthy to be ranked with the imperishable creations of the Classics."

Program Notes


András Schiff reveals that the music of Bach has always been present in his musical life and the central role that the multi-instrumental keyboardist George Malcolm played in his appreciation of J. S. and C. P. E. Bach.

This performance is part of Keyboard Virtuosos I.