Tragic news: A great cellist has died, at 65

Tragic news: A great cellist has died, at 65


norman lebrecht

December 23, 2016

The marvellous Austrian soloist and conductor Heinrich Schiff has died today in a Vienna hospital. He had been in poor health for several years after suffering a stroke and he no longer played the cello, but his teaching and his conducting lit up the music world.

We mourn his loss.

Heinrich Schiff was artistic director of the Northern Sinfonia in England from 1990 to 1996. He was also chief conductor of the Copenhagen Philharmonic and the Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur.


  • Mahan Esfahani says:

    He will always be the king of those ‘cello suites of Bach. I have no idea that he and Bach are playing through them right now. In his honor I shall be listening to his unforgettable recording on EMI.

  • MIscha Maisky says:

    Simply shocking… RIP!

  • Tim Walton says:

    Very sad news. His biography states that he gave up playing in 2008 following a stroke. The last time I heard him play was in Symphony Hall, with the CBSO, on 8 October 2008, so this must have been one of his last concerts anywhere.

    May he rest in peace

  • Christof Huebner says:

    Dear Heinrich, RIP! I have never forgotten the dinner where you decided to pour your wine over Klaus Metzl. It was a hilarious moment. Your artistry was a big part of my childhood. Deep admiration and tremendous sadness over your passing!!

  • Pablo casals says:

    So sorry ….. from heaven……

  • boringfileclerk says:

    This is a tragic loss to the music world. Left speechless.

  • NANCY KAYE says:

    Too sad … a brilliant musician. RIP

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    This is indeed terrible news. I heard him perform the Schumann concerto a number of years ago with the Boston Symphony directed by Franz Wesler-Most, if memory serves. I still can hear the performance in my memory’s ear.

  • Dagmar Buslach says:

    Very sad news. Heinrich Schiff inspired me deeply with his obvious joy and authenticity while performing. Playing the Cello was a reason to live, he once said …

  • Katie Hull says:

    Heinrich was full of energy and extraordinary creative vitality. I have wonderful memories of working with him when he was MD of Northern Sinfonia. Such sad news.

  • Alexander Rahbari says:

    Dear Norman such a big shock, such a bad news, Just now I came home and saw the sad news, such a terrible and tragic loss. he was a great friend and fantastic musician. I have Wonderfull memories with him around the world but the most important concert for me was , Wenn he was only 18 and we were studding in Vienna music academy , he came with me to Tehran and we had our very first concerts together. this is very sad news. Alexander Rahbari Vienna

  • Dave Steel says:

    Just a little older than me. So sad. May he RIP. I’ve only seen him on the internet but it’s clear he was a genius.

  • Sue says:

    I was terribly shocked when I heard this news this morning. My husband came in with a cup of tea and said Schiff has died. Immediately I thought of the pianist but when I checked the internet it was Heinrich. A wonderful musician and a great beacon for classical music who will long be remember. Vale Heinrich Schiff.

  • Sergey Khanukaev says:

    Very sad. Rest in peace…

  • Macjon65 says:

    Seeing him play the Bach suites in Bristol in 2007 was probably the musical highlight of my life so far. I can honest;y say that time stopped from the moment he put the bow to the string until he had fginished playing. The sarabande from suite 5 he played as an encore actually made me cry (embarrassing admission). Of course the EMI recording has been a constant companion since it came out (it was one of my first “classical” records). Thank you so much Herr Schiff, rest in peace.

  • Predrag Gosta says:

    Indeed sad news. RIP!

  • Andreas Helling says:

    His recording of both Shostakovich concertos where one of my biggest inspiration as a youngster!
    His Don Quixote in Berwaldhallen in Sweden has also fetched into my memory.
    R.I.P Grande Maestro!

  • Helen Brennan says:

    I will always remember him sitting on our lounge after dinner in 1978, when he visited Australia, playing a cello concerto on my daughter’s sixteenth size violin!

  • Edmond Clement says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht,
    Do you know what ‘tragic’ means?