Heinrich Schiff was born on 18 November 1951 in Gmunden, Austria. His parents, Helga (née Riemann) and Helmut Schiff, were composers. He studied cello with Tobias Kühne and André Navarra and made his solo debut in Vienna and London in 1971. He studied conducting with Hans Swarowsky.
Schiff made his conducting debut in 1986. He was Artistic Director of the Northern Sinfonia from 1990 to 1996, and recorded with them for the Collins Classics label. He also held chief conductorships with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra in Copenhagen, Denmark (1996–2000), and the Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur (1996-2001).
Schiff played the "Mara" Stradivarius (1711) and "Sleeping Beauty" made by Montagnana in Venice in 1739. His recording of the Bach Cello Suites won prizes, and his recording of the Shostakovich concertos won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1985. His recording of the Brahms Double Concerto with Frank Peter Zimmermann and Wolfgang Sawallisch won the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis. Composers who have written cello concertos for Schiff include John Casken and Friedrich Gulda.
Schiff frequently experienced pain in his right shoulder and arm, the one that holds the bow, presumably caused by overexertion, but tried to ignore it. While playing in a chamber concert in Vienna on 25 April 2010 he had to take breaks during pieces due to the pain. After this evening, he never played cello in public again.
- Millington, Barry (December 30, 2016). "Heinrich Schiff obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
- Andrew Clements (2003-07-04). "Casken: Darting the Skiff; Maharal Dreaming, etc: Schiff/ Northern Sinfonia/ Casken". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- ""Sechs Jahre, die wir nicht missen möchten" | NZZ". Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
- "Stefan Vladar neuer Chefdirigent des Wiener Kammerorchesters". Vienna Online. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Griffiths, Bill, Northern Sinfonia. Northumbria University Press, p. 21 (ISBN 1904794076).
- Andrew Clements (1999-08-10). "Colour and spice: Gulda's Cello Concerto (Royal Albert Hall / Radio 3)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Amling, Ulrich (23 December 2016). "Zum Tod des Cellisten Heinrich Schiff". Der Tagesspiegel. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
- "Christian Poltéra". www.christianpoltera.com.
- zeit.de 7 May 2015 / Carolin Pirich: Oh, Mara!
- Jahn, Johann (23 December 2016). "ZUM TOD DES CELLISTEN UND DIRIGENTEN". br-klassik.de.
- Intermusica agency biography of Heinrich Schiff
- Interview with Heinrich Schiff, July 3, 1989
- Heinrich Schiff discography at Discogs