Stephan Schmidt studied in Trossingen with Gerhard Schempp and Luis Martin-Diego, in Paris with Betho Davezac and Alberto Ponce and in New York with Manuel Barrueco.
Between 1987-1988 he won several first prizes in international competitions, crowned by the 1st prize of the 30th “Concours International de Guitare de Radio France” in Paris in 1988.
His artistic path was influenced by the composer Maurice Ohana and the discovery of his music for tenstring guitar in 1980. Stephan Schmidt’s recording of Ohana’s complete guitar works earned him world wide attention of the musical press as well as the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros and the Victoires de la Musique in 1994. His award winning recording of the Luteworks of Johann Sebastian Bach was a bestseller for many years and is still considered to be a milestone in the recording history of these pieces. Other recordings were dedicated to Domenico Scarlatti and to contemporary music (Helmut Lachenmann, Heinz Holliger…). In 2016 he published two guitar concertos: one by Antoine de Lhoyer in A-major op.16 and the guitar concerto “White wind waiting” from the magnificent composer Chaya Czernowin, François Xavier Roth conducting. In 2018 he was invited by Helmut Lachenmann to participate together with Mats Scheidegger in the world premiere his long awaited new work “my melodies” with the Sinfoniorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Peter Eötvös conducting. In 2019 he will perform “my melodies” together wih the Berliner Philharmoniker under Simon Rattle.
His concert repertoire is based on the performance of masterpieces by great composers, such as J.S. Bach, Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, Chaya Czernowin and Bruno Maderna, and the collaboration with other artists from very different aesthetic worlds. He performed in many countries around the world.
From 1988 until 2001 Stephan Schmidt was teaching at the Hochschule der Künste Bern (Switzerland). Between 1998-2001 he was artistic director of “Meisterkurse des Konservatoriums Bern” and organised masterclasses, interdisciplinary meetings, productions and several large festivals.
Between 2002 and 2012 Stephan Schmidt has been working as Rector and Professor at the Hochschule für Musik at the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel in Switzerland.
Since 2012 he is Director of the Musik-Akademie Basel and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Hochschule für Musik – Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Klassik and Jazz.