Andras Schiff’s Schubert tiff blows up into full row

Andras Schiff’s Schubert tiff blows up into full row


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2019

The story so far.

The pianist pulled out of the 2020 Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg/Hohenems.

The festival director, Gerd Nachbauer, published an anti-Schiff diatribe, complaining that Schiff submitted his programme too late to get first choice, and hisfrequent abuse of Steinway pianos was unwelcome.

Schiff replied that he would boycott the Schubertiade so long as Nachbauer stayed in his job.

The latest?

Schiff says he was astonished that Nachbauer went public. Cancelling the festival, he adds, was ‘a very painful and difficult decision.’

Nachbauer has retaliated, calling this comment ‘an infantile reaction’.

It’s all heating up nicely.




  • Ellingtonia says:

    And they say that footballers are overpaid, temperamental little ***ts!

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Needn’t be confined to one profession. Though Schiff is older than the average footballer. Among the treasures of the Hungarian language is a verb meaning to take offence readily.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Please, Mike, I must know what this word is!
        And if you would conjugate the verb for me, I will drink a toast to you with Tokaj!

  • The View from America says:

    This is another example of classical music on display in public spaces. First it was the town square and shopping mall courtyards, then bus-stop shelters and subway stations, and now the kids’ playground.


  • Piano Fan says:

    So Schiff, who has a reputation as a diva, has crossed swords with Nachbauer, who appears to be shilling for the Steinway mafia. Amusing.

    As to Schiff, he should understand the concept of “first come, first served” – another pianist submitted his/her program and availability first. You snooze, you lose.

    Maybe Nachbauer should switch jobs and become a Steinway salesman.

    • The View from America says:


    • Saxon Broken says:

      Actually, I think I agree with Nachbauer’s position.

      It is fine if someone wants to play a different make of piano, and the person can even say it is because they prefer the sound of the other instrument. But you really can’t have a diatribe against Steinway at the festival and harangue the audience when Steinway are providing a piano for free to the concert venue.

  • Alphonse says:

    What a couple of Marys…

    • Paul Brownsey says:


      Oh? You think this behaviour is typical of women?

      Don’t you think your cattiness in calling them Marys exemplifies one female stereotype?

      • Alphonse says:

        Take a day off from inane virtue signalling and take a seat, you humorless (or “humourless”, as the case may be) blockheaded Brit. That’s not what “Mary” means. It was a lighthearted joke aimed at the absurd antics of the two parties in the article. By the by- you sound like one who would greatly benefit from some testosterone replacement therapy. Cheerio.

        • Bernd says:

          An actual Brit would know how to write “Mary’s”, don’t you think? Apart from that it’s a derogatory expression for effeminate men, no humor there.

          • Alphonse says:

            It’s plural, not possessive, so why would there be an apostrophe? Get a clue- not to mention a sense of humor. Sorry- “humour.”

          • Alphonse says:

            As an aside, it was also a reference to a scene in the US version of The Office, in which Bob Vance (of Vance Refrigeration) dismisses Michael and Stanley as “a pair of Marys” in response to their accosting him for allowing his matronly wife, Phyllis, to cut in the line on Pretzel Day. But I suppose a politically correct Brit would not find that amusing.

  • RobK says:

    Andras Schiff is good, but there are better, and I suspect, deep-down, he knows it.

    • bluepumpkin says:

      If you had ever heard Andras Schiff or seen him give a masterclass – one which benefits not only the student but those watching – then I think you would realise that your statement is wide of the mark. He is up there with the very best.

      As regards “better pianists”, I find it hard to imagine many who would be up to the staggering intellectual, emotional and physical challenge of playing from memory a whole book of Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier in the enormous cavern of the Royal Albert Hall to a sell-out audience of thousands INCLUDING his peers, with the television cameras almost breathing down his neck.

      As regards “better pianists” again, I hold to the thought and sentiment behind the statement: Jorge Bolet was not the greatest pianist, but he was always my favourite.
      … and when Richter judged his only piano competition, he apparently awarded 10 or zero, on the view that “either the guy can play or he cannot”.

  • justsaying says:

    off-topic: seems that video criticising YNS has been removed from YouTube. Story to chase?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Sadly Schiff is increasingly infantile. I guess part of that comes from having nobody else to think about but the self.

  • Nick2 says:

    I wonder where the Schiff bashing comes from. Two years ago I attended his all-Bach recital including the Goldberg Variations in the 2,000 seat Concert Hall in Taipei. It was totally packed. He played superbly and the audience would not let him leave. He played four encores over the additional 30 minutes.

  • Dr M says:

    I know Schiff but who is this Nachbauer managing Schubertiade without accommodating Schiff? Why is he taking offense on behalf of Yamaha? Ridiculous… An artist can always express his opinion of the instrument, can’t he?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The artist can express his opinion…but there are limits. Schiff really doesn’t want to observe those limits.

  • Agnes says:

    The Schubertiade GmbH ist Mr. Nachbauers private company, so he can do whatever he likes. And he Alays did for over 40 years

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    I am always somewhat wary of any storm in a teacup involving objects built by Steinway…