David Schiff: About
I was born in the Bronx two weeks after the end of WW II and spent my first ten years in New York City. I started playing piano when I was four — and also started playing the record player and radio at that age. My family owned three recordings that I listened to over and over: a Gershwin memorial album, the original cast recording of South Pacific and Debussy's La Mer. My father also enjoyed listening to Nat King Cole and Pearl Bailey, and the family listened to Jewish music on WEVD. When I was nine I heard a recording of Billy the Kid and decided on the spot to become a composer.
When I was ten we moved to New Rochelle where I learned tuba and bass so that I could play in the school band and orchestra. I was fortunate to be surrounded by friends who were intensely interested in music — all kinds of music. I also was lucky to take piano lessons at Sarah Lawrence College where my teacher, Kenneth Wentworth, gave me the run of the music library — the best way to get an education. I spent two summers at Stonegate Music Camp where I studied with James Wimer — a man who taught me, and a lot of other people, just about everything. I composed a prelude and fugue for woodwind trio at Stonegate and our maestro, Dr. Richard Karp, told me I was a composer. You can read all the official stuff in my Biography but I should mention a few more great people who have made a big difference in my music: Peter Kogan, Ludmilla Uhlehla, Ursula Mamlok, Roger Smalley, (the late) Tim Souster, Peter Britton, John Schott, Robin Holloway, Kenneth Kiesler, my wife Judy and our children Daniel and Jamie.
We moved to Portland, Oregon in 1980. Life on the left coast has agreed with me though everyone says I'm still a New Yorker. Teaching the bright young things at Reed College has kept me on my toes. For twenty-five years now I have had a wonderful relationship with Chamber Music Northwest and its music director, David Shifrin that has allowed me to write music for some of the finest musicians in the world. It doesn't get better than that.