Music is René Schiffer’s chosen path to truth. Born in the Dukedom of Brabant (now divided between Belgium and Holland) in 1961, he began his lessons at six years old with his father, Hungarian cellist György Schiffer. René studied (and had many political talks) with world renowned cellist Anner Bijlsma in Amsterdam, and specialized in historical cello with Jaapoter Linden, in Rotterdam. He studied viola da gamba with Catharina Meints at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Schiffer performed his first professional concerts in the European Philharmonic Orchestra, with Jean Jakus conducting, in the Brabants Orchestra in the Netherlands, and as a permanent member of the New Belgian Chamber Orchestra, now called Beethoven Academy, in Leuven (under Jan Caeyers, informally called Herbert Von Caeyersjan). He also performed with the European Community Baroque Orchestra in 1988, under Ton Koopman, Roy Goodman and Edward Higgingbottom. Later he followed renowned baroque orchestras such as the Les Musiciens du Louvre, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and La Petite Bande, where he performed from 1989 till 2005. Schiffer also performed regularly with the Dutch Bach Society (Utrecht) and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Toronto). In addition he has played under the conductors Gustav Leonhardt, Sigiswald Kuijken, Ton Koopman, Bruno Weil, Marc Minkowski, and Richard Egarr.
As a soloist and a chamber player René Schiffer participated in festivals located in Amsterdam, Budapest, Tallinn, Utrecht, Versailles, the Flanders Festival and Grandchamp.. He was also the permanent cellist in ensemble Il Gardellino from 2003 till 2007, with whom he made trips to Israel, Guatemala, as well as many European countries. Since its foundation in 1993, Schiffer has been principal cellist of Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland baroque orchestra, which has toured throughout the United States and European cities such as London, Birmingham, Madrid, Lisbon, Bordeaux, Metz, Tilburg, Heerlen and Bregenz.
Schiffer appears on more than 40 recordings, mostly of La Petite Bande, Tafelmusik, Apollo’s Fire and Il Gardellino, on labels like Harmonia Mundi, Philips, Virgin Classics, Erato, Sony, AVIE, Koch and Eclectra. As a teacher, Schiffer has given master classes at many university campuses, including Seoul, Korea; Case Western Reserve University, University of Michigan, The Oberlin Conservatory and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He has also received Suzuki training from Jean Dexter, Andrea Yun, and Cheryl Trace predominantly teaching at the Toledo Symphony School of Music since 2010. Schiffer has also given classes at The Cleveland Music School Settlement. As a composer in historical and modern styles, Schiffer’s works have been performed by Apollo’s Fire, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony, and the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra. His Tango Concerto can be heard on the Apollo’s Fire CD Vivaldi & Friends. His Jewish rhapsodies can be found on YouTube under Schiffer/Kaddish.
Schiffer enjoys about every cuisine’s accomplishments as long as Brussels sprouts do not belong to the ingredients.