Performance Thursday, March 12, 2015 | 8 PM

Sir András Schiff

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Sir András Schiff performs final piano sonatas by four great composers of the Austro-German tradition. The Classical era is represented by Haydn’s charming Sonata in D Major and Mozart’s B-flat–Major Sonata. Beethoven bridges the Classical and the Romantic eras and, in his profound Sonata No. 31, explores a new world of keyboard invention. Schubert’s Sonata in A Major is bold and lyrical with an especially daring Andantino of startling key changes.


  • Sir András Schiff, Piano


  • MOZART Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 570
  • BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
  • HAYDN Piano Sonata in D Major, Hob. HVI: 51
  • SCHUBERT Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959

Event Duration

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


  •  Sir András Schiff 

    Renowned and acclaimed as a pianist, conductor, pedagogue, and lecturer, Sir András Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953. Having recently completed The Bach Project throughout the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 concert seasons, he next performs The Last Sonatas, a series of recitals comprising the final three sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. The Last Sonatas takes place over the course of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, with the complete series slated for Carnegie Hall, San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, Los Angeles's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chicago's Symphony Center, Maryland's Strathmore Hall, Vancouver Recital Society, and the University of Michigan's University Musical Society.

    As pedagogue, he partners with 92nd Street Y and SubCulture for Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists, a three-concert series in February and March curated by Mr. Schiff that introduces rising young pianists Kuok-Wai Lio, Roman Rabinovich, and Adam Golka.

    Mr. Schiff has built a prolific discography and since 1997 has been an exclusive artist for ECM New Series. Recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janáček; two solo albums of Schumann piano pieces; and his second recordings of Bach's partitas, Goldberg Variations, and The Well-Tempered Clavier. An all-Schubert disc featuring the B-flat Major and G-Major piano sonatas, D. 960 and D. 894, respectively; Moments musicaux, D. 780; and Impromptus, D. 935, is slated to be released in fall 2015.

    Mr. Schiff has been awarded numerous international prizes, and his relationship with publisher G. Henle continues over the next few years with a joint edition of Mozart's piano concertos and both volumes of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. He is an honorary member of the Beethoven House in Bonn in recognition of his interpretations of Beethoven's works; has received the Wigmore Hall Medal in appreciation of 30 years of music making at that venue and the Mozart Medal by the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum; and was made a member of honor of Vienna's Konzerthaus. He was given the Royal Philharmonic Society's Gold Medal and has received honorary degrees from the University of Leeds and music schools in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich. In June 2014, he wasawarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

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Haydn's Piano Sonata No. 61 in D Major (Finale - Presto)
András Schiff, Piano

At a Glance

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART  Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 570

Often heard in an arrangement for violin and piano published shortly after Mozart’s death, this winsome work is the next-to-last of the composer’s extant piano sonatas. (The commonly accepted total of 18 excludes a number of sonatas known to have been lost.) He wrote it in early 1789, shortly before embarking on a concert tour to Germany that resulted in the three great “Prussian” String Quartets.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110

The last three of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas were composed between 1820 and late 1822, the period during which he was struggling to bring the Missa solemnis and the Ninth Symphony to completion. In the A-flat–Major Sonata, one often has the sense that the composer is feeling his way from one idea to the next, the notes forming themselves soundlessly under his fingers, detached from their auditory moorings.

JOSEPH HAYDN  Piano Sonata in D Major, Hob. HVI: 51

In his last three keyboard sonatas, Haydn exploited the expanded tonal resources of the Broadwood pianos he played during his two lengthy stays in London in the early 1790s. Despite—or perhaps because of—its extreme brevity, the D-Major Sonata packs a hefty punch. Its two movements are as chock full of musical ideas and inspiration as any of Haydn’s longer sonatas. 

FRANZ SCHUBERT  Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959

This work, too, is one of its composer’s last three piano sonatas. Written in the spring and summer of 1828, it was completed that September, only a few weeks before the composer’s untimely death. In contrast to the Sonata in C Minor written the same year, the mood of the A-Major Sonata is not primarily tragic: Schubert seems content to let us peer into the abyss without tumbling in.

Program Notes
This performance is part of Keyboard Virtuosos II.