Paul Badura-Skoda

Paul Badura-Skoda is considered among the greatest Austrian pianists and is one of the most universal musicians of our time: He conducts, composes and collects original sheet music editions and historical keyboard instruments.

Badura-Skoda’s career began in 1949 when he received concert engagements in Vienna from Herbert von Karajan and Wilhelm Furtwängler. He made his debut at the Salzburg Festival the next year. Since then he has concertized worldwide and is probably the only pianist who has recorded all the Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert sonatas more than once, on both fortepiano and modern piano, on CD—as well as performed the cycles in public. “It’s all about finding a point of contact to the audience and communicating the message of a work.”

Badura-Skoda has studied hundreds of autographs and original editions, of which he possesses a comprehensive archive. His studies have inspired numerous Urtext editions, essays and books on interpreting Bach and Mozart. His interest in musicology was sparked already in his younger years: “Early on, I wanted to find out what is behind the notes and how a piece of music is constructed. That’s why I learned the fundamentals of composition and harmony before I had even decided on a career as a pianist—originally I wanted to become an engineer, fact.”

When making music, one should recognize the spirit that lies behind the letters while still being precise when reading the scores. All knowledge opens us up and makes us more free. Ultimately, it’s possible to handle knowledge with artistic freedom.

He has been connected to Bösendorfer for many years and even played a Bösendorfer grand as a child. “What I like about Bösendorfer is the singing sound as well as the evenness in all registers. The balance between the reverberation and the attack—this is unique.” Paul Badura-Skoda has held the Bösendorfer Ring since 1978, a distinction previously bestowed only upon one person, namely Wilhelm Backhaus. Bösendorfer awards the ring to selected pianists who embody the tradition of Viennese music-making.